Updated 08:00 18/04/2016: As one of the deadliest earthquakes in decades hit the coast of Ecuador on Saturday night, images, videos and written reports have flooded social media. The events are still unfolding, but according to most local news outlets and authorities, the death toll has risen to 272, while more than 2,000 people have been injured.
One of the most affected cities is Pedernales, a city on Ecuador's coast, very close to the epicenter. There, the confusion has sparked incidents of violence and looting:
— Fernando Pesántez (@ferpesantez) April 17, 2016
80% of Pedernales is unfortunately destroyed, there's chaos, looting, the situation is critical. Urgent help is needed #EcuadorEarthquake
‘No one has tried to imprison Twitter users sharing information. Right?’
The government has declared a state of exception, similar to a state of emergency, in several provinces. People have been flocking to Twitter to share updates, and locate friends and loved ones who might have been trapped or lost during the disaster. Some compared the amount of information being published on the platform to the relative lack of information being pushed out by the government and other sources:
Cuando hay un terremoto en tu pais y la informacion la tenes que buscar en twitter te das cuenta que hay algo que anda muy pero muy mal.
— Daniel Sais (@danielsais) April 17, 2016
When there's an earthquake in your country and the information needs to be found on Twitter, you realize something's wrong. Really wrong.
— Roberto (@librepensador) April 17, 2016
Ecuador, “state of exception”: translates to: nobody reports anything that the government doesn't say. The law of “in” communication
Meanwhile, users like Andrés Delgado made reference to the government's previous antagonistic behavior towards social media and underlined the importance of these platforms in moments like this:
— Andrés Delgado (@AndresDelgadoEC) April 17, 2016
No one has tried to imprison Twitter users sharing information. Right? RIGHT? #Earthquake #Tsunami
Images of the disaster
Many of the images and videos shared on Twitter also show the devastating effects of the earthquake throughout the country, especially in the areas close to the epicenter:
— Webcams de México (@webcamsdemexico) April 17, 2016
Moving video #EcuadorEarthquake! 30 seconds that feel like an eternity
— LaHistoria (@lahistoriaec) April 17, 2016
More images of the damage caused by the #EcuadorEarthquake in #Pedernales, Manabí
— Esteban Noboa C. (@EstebanNoboaC) April 17, 2016
The building of the Social Security Institute of Ecuador in Portoviejo. Brutal #EcuadorEarthquake
On YouTube, users uploaded their accounts of the earthquake. GP Films Trainning Art, usually devoted to video making and martial arts tutorials, posted a video in which he relays reports coming from the most affected places. He also used his Facebook account to post information about rescue plans.
Estamos pendientes hasta estas horas de la madrugada […] Donde hubo más consecuencia fue en Pedernales. Alumnos míos de allá están en shock, no tienen fuerzas, no pueden ni hablar […] Dicen que Pedernales está destruido. No hay una casa en pie. Dicen que lamentablemente está aconteciendo bastante violencia
We've been following the events throughout the early morning […] Most of the consequences were seen in Pedernales. Some of my students there are in shock, they have no strength, they can't even speak […] They say Pedernales is destroyed. There's not one house standing. They [also] say that, unfortunately, a lot of violence is taking place.
This video by Ángel Leonardo Torres was widely shared. It shows the beginning of the earthquake as seen from inside a home goods store:
Using information from the Geophysics Institute of Ecuador, Edgar Sanchez shared on Twitter this map with the last 1,000 earthquakes in the area:
— Edgar Sánchez (@EdgarSanchez) April 17, 2016