The quake, Ecuador’s largest since 1979, hit at 18:58 on Saturday (23:58 GMT) near the northern town of Muisne.
Widespread severe damage is reported, with a bridge destroyed as far south as Guayaquil about 300km (190 miles) away.
President Rafael Correa, who is flying back from a trip to Italy, has decreed a state of emergency.
He said: “This is a very painful test. I ask the country to be calm and united… Let’s be strong; we will overcome this.”
He added: “Roads and hospitals can be rebuilt; you cannot recover lost lives. That’s what hurts the most.” READ MORE