The global Red Cross has delivered a major aid shipment into Ecuador following the 7.8 magnitude earthquake that occurred April 16, 2016. It is the first large delivery of aid since the disaster struck, bringing nearly 60 tons of aid into the country.
Getting aid into the country has proved challenging, with continuing aftershocks, severe infrastructure damage and limited access to the most affected communities in remote and mountainous areas all hampering relief efforts. In addition to aid supplies, the shipment includes three satellite phones which will improve communications on the ground, providing a reliable means to get information from remote areas to disaster managers at the Ecuadorian Red Cross.
“This first charter flight to arrive in Ecuador is really important for us as it will allow us increase our support to the tens of thousands of people who have been affected” said Diego Castellanos, Communications Manager for the Ecuadorian Red Cross. “The first hours after a disaster of that scale are crucial. We need to respond as quickly as possible to alleviate suffering."
The earthquake struck the coast of Ecuador in the province of Esmeraldas, some 100 miles from the capital, Quito. The Ecuadorian Red Cross immediately responded, activating 800 volunteers to provide first aid and search and rescue for survivors. The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) pulled from pre-positioned disaster relief stock in Ecuador and is providing support to the Ecuador Red Cross through its Americas regional network. While search and rescue efforts are mostly finished at this point, the Ecuadorian Red Cross continues to provide first aid, food, water, and comfort.
The Ecuador earthquake occurred just days after two deadly quakes struck Japan’s Kyushu region.
Initial reports show the quake left more than 500 dead and approximately 4,000 more injured. Damage to infrastructure, homes and roads has been extensive and more than 100 aftershocks have occurred in the area. The Ecuadoran Government declared a state of emergency.
Because of the many remote mountain villages in the area and downed communication systems, a full assessment of damage and loss is still ongoing. A team of disaster specialists—including an American Red Cross assessment specialist—has been deployed to support the Ecuadorian Red Cross response. The American Red Cross has also activated its Restoring Family Links services and is providing information management support and assistance at the 24-hour emergency center. It is expected the number of deaths and damage will increase as more information is gathered.
The people of Japan are also reeling from the disaster there when twin earthquakes occurred within hours, killing more than 40 people and injuring thousands more. The Japanese Red Cross immediately responded, dispatching 12 medical teams to help the injured. Additional volunteers are distributing blankets, sleeping mats, tarps, pillows, and hygiene kits to people in shelters—as well as other support as needed.
The American Red Cross has a long-standing partnership with the Ecuadorian Red Cross and has been working in the country for years, helping kids and communities prepare for earthquake. See more here. Our hearts go out to the people of Ecuador and Japan and we will continue to monitor the situation in the coming days.