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Unlike other Latin American countries Ecuador did not have a tradition of confined masonry construction before the April 2016 earthquake. Housing and small commercial buildings in the coastal region were generally of non-engineered masonry construction, up to three or four stories high. Small RC columns are cast at corners and at wall intersections, brick or block panels (typically unreinforced) are then built between columns, a RC slab is cast, and the process is repeated for subsequent stories. Finally, a reinforced concrete bond beam is cast and a truss roof, of metal or wood, completes the structure. Alternatively, a complete reinforced concrete frame may be constructed first and the masonry infill walls are placed last.  Alternative housing construction technologies involve the use of timber, like traditional bahareque construction. Confined masonry construction practice in Ecuador started after the 2016 earthquake, as a part of the reconstruction efforts (EERI 2016).

Earthquake Performance

On April 16, 2016 an earthquake with a moment magnitude 7.8 and a maximum European Macroseismic Scale (EMS-98) intensity of IX (destructive) struck along the central coast of Ecuador. Damage was spread up and down the coast, with some towns almost being completely erased. Masonry buildings experienced damage in the earthquake, and in some cases upper stories in the buildings collapsed. In the high shaking intensity area there were about 30% collapses (EERI 2016).

Guidelines, Codes, and Standards