Photo: UAN CEVALLOS / Stringe
Photo: UAN CEVALLOS / Stringe

A 7.8 earthquake struck Ecuador on Saturday, killing at least 272 people and injuring another 2,500.

Around 10,000 troops and 3,500 police have been deployed for rescue operations.

In addition the southern Japanese island of Kyushu suffered two powerful earthquakes in three days, killing at least 41 people, injuring hundred and displacing some 180,000 residents.

Jonathan Stewart, professor of Earthquake Engineering and expert on seismology spoke to indy100:

Earthquakes occur primarily on the boundaries of the tectonic plates that comprise the surface of the earth.

They can become even more dangerous if the tectonic shift happens along the ocean bed, as these cause destructive tsunamis.

Once such boundary is the San Andreas fault in California, which is on the edge of the Pacific Plate. This same plate is responsible for earthquakes in Alaska, Japan, and Chile, among others.

Large population centers near plate boundaries include Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Anchorage, Tokyo, Taipei, New Zealand, Santiago, Mexico City, Istanbul.

Here are five other places around the world deemed at risk of an earthquake by experts:

1. California

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

A major fault line, called the San Andreas Fault, exists along the West Coast and if an earthquake does occur - which it could at any time - it will likely be in the 8-10 Richter Scale range.

San Francisco has not had a major earthquake since 1906.

2. New Zealand

Phil Walter/Getty Images

The Alpine Fault runs along the western coast of New Zealand's South Island, and was the cause of the 2009 7.8 magnitude earthquake.

The fault shifts much more than regular fault lines. Scientists say it has a high probability (30 per cent) of rupturing in the next 50 years, which would trigger the biggest earthquake the country will have seen since records began.

3. Chile

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Chile suffered the highest ever recorded quake, the 1960 Valdivia earthquake at 9.4-9.6 on the Richter scale.

Peru and Chile are surrounded by two plate structures, the Nazca plate, and the South American plate and their interaction is expected to cause another major earthquake in the near future.

A quake in April 2014 measuring 8.2 on the Richter scale killed six people and left thousands homeless, but scientists were expecting an 8.6 scale quake - which is yet to happen.

4. Sumatra (Indonesia)

AFP/Stringer/Getty Images

The Indonesian island has a fault line called the Great Sumatran Fault. A powerful, shallow earthquake hit off the southwestern coast of Sumatra just last week, which triggered a tsunami warning, but luckily no deaths or injuries were reported.

The island is located in a place of high seismic activity. It was a massive 9.1 magnitude quake off the coast of Sumatra in 2004 that caused the Boxing Day 2004 tsunami which killed 240,000 people in dozens of Pacific countries.

5. Manila (Philippines)

Dondi Tawatao/Getty Images

The country is part of the Pacific fault lines called the Ring of Fire - which includes countries like Japan and Chile - where volcanoes litter the ocean floor.

Manila is built on the West Valley Fault, and seismologists have predicted that an earthquake stronger than magnitude 7 can hit the city at any time.

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