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Ecuador earthquake death toll rises to 525. Crowdfunding for help stepped up

Deaths caused by the earthquake that hit Ecuador on the 16th of April continue rising, reaching 525. Relief efforts, including crowdfunding initiatives, have been stepped up.

Seventy-two hours after a potent earthquake of magnitude 7.8 on the Richter scale shocked the coast of Ecuador, the death toll has risen to 525, with more than 2,500 people injured. The quake, which took place on the evening of the 16th of April, was felt in more than eight provinces including the capital Quito. Unbelievably, more than 300 aftershocks were also felt in the affected zones. This is the worst natural disaster that the country has suffered since the earthquake in the city of Ambato in 1949.

The scale of destruction

At least 6,000 homes have been destroyed and more than 1,700 people are still missing. President Rafael Correa has announced that the reconstruction of the affected areas will take decades as well as a powerful investment from the state. The most damaged areas are the cities of Pedernales, Manta, Chone, Esmeraldas, Portoviejo, Muisne, Canoa and Bahía de Caraquez. More than a hundred rural communities have also suffered the impact of the quake.

 

Most of the cities are part of Manabí province, where the majority of the population earns its livelihoods through agriculture, animal husbandry, shrimping and tourism activities. Manta city is one of Ecuador’s principal ports and has been the city with the highest economic growth in the last twenty years.

 

pedernales earthquake
Rescue members and volunteers rest in Pedernales © Guillermo Granja/Reuters

Disaster response

Tonnes of food, water and basic necessities have been sent to places affected by the disaster from the cities of Quito and Guayaquil thanks to the mobilization of civil society and the collaboration of the national police force and fire department. In addition, Mexico, Chile, Peru, Colombia, Norway, Cuba, Venezuela, Bolivia and Spain have sent missions commanded by experts in disaster management to aid in the rescue efforts. Besides that, dozens of campaigns have raised more than 200,000 dollars from all over the world through online crowdfunding and Ecuadorian businesses have donated resources of first necessity to help affected families and improve conditions.

 

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Relief goods to be sent to Ecuador at a military airport in Callao, Peru © Mariana Bazo/Reuters

A nation in shock

Unfortunately, the extent of the damage continues to grow. There are still people trapped under the rubble that haven’t been rescued. Dozens of children in temporary shelters are hoping to find their parents alive. Likewise, many parents are desperately looking for their missing children. Numerous volunteers from different cities in the country have gone to the coast to help with support and rescue activities. However, many of them are facing psychological trauma because of the number of corpses and extent of the damage. The situation is critical and the amount of money and resources are still insufficient.

 

The people of Ecuador are in shock. Destroyed families, ghost towns and mountains of rubble now line the South American country’s Pacific coast. People are experiencing a panorama of despair with the hope that this nightmare will end soon.

 

How to help

There are ways in which the world can help. First, it is important to share information about the conditions in Ecuador as widely possible. There are also numerous avenues through which to donate money safely to help the victims. The Ecuadorian Embassy in the UK and the community of Ecuadorian students in London have circulated a video with images of the earthquake and mounted a crowdfunding campaign: SOS Ecuador. Let’s share and donate to give our Ecuadorian sisters and brothers, who are experiencing one of the hardest times in their history, a ray of light.

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