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By Alexandra Valencia

QUITO (Reuters) - Two people were killed and eight wounded after a 5.1 magnitude earthquake struck outside Ecuador's capital of Quito, the government said on Tuesday, with rescue workers seeking to free three others trapped after the tremor.

"Firemen are working to evacuate the wounded and to find and rescue the people who are trapped," the government's National Risk Control Agency said via Twitter, without providing details.

A local television station earlier reported that people had been trapped by landslides in the area of a quarry north of Quito.

Social media showed images of dust clouds that had formed outside the city after the tremor as result of shifting earth.

The city's main airport returned to normal operations after earlier halting flights as a precautionary measure to evaluate its infrastructure following the temblor.

"We could really feel it. The first thing I did was leave (the building) with my colleagues," said Teresa Salazar, 45, who works at an imports business in northern Quito. "There was nothing major to report but we were all very nervous."

The U.S. Geological Survey said the moderate quake was only 4.8 miles (7.7 km) deep, with its epicentre located 14 miles northeast of Quito, a city of some 1.6 million inhabitants.

(Reporting by Alexandra Valencia and Sandra Maler, writing by Brian Ellsworth; editing by Mohammad Zargham, G Crosse)

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