ON SATURDAY NIGHT, A 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit Ecuador’s coastal northwest. It has been the largest earthquake in Ecuador in decades, and has killed, as of this writing, upwards of 350 people. More than 2,500 people have been injured, and thousands have been left homeless.
The quake hit hardest in Manabi province, on the coast, and hit the cities of Manta, Pedernales, and Portoviejo the worst, but it has been felt throughout the country, with around 230 aftershocks being recorded since the initial earthquake. As of right now, a massive effort is under way to help people in affected areas, which has been made difficult by the lack of communication with some of the mountain towns affected, and because of recent water damage to the roads. The Ecuador branch of the Red Cross is actively working to save people trapped under the rubble, and the Ecuadorian police force and army have constructed mobile hospitals in the worst-affected towns.
The countries of Chile, Colombia, Mexico, and Spain have all sent people to help, and the United States has also offered its support in whatever way is needed. The country has closed nightclubs and canceled soccer matches in the wake of the disaster, and mobile providers are allowing free texting in Manabi and Esmereldas Provinces so people can let each other they’re okay. The capital city of Quito seems to have come out mostly unscathed, and the threat of a tsunami has now passed.
If you know someone in Ecuador and you want to get in touch with them to see if they’re all right, you can use Facebook’s safety check tool to check their status. But keep in mind, if they haven’t checked in, that may not be because they aren’t safe: communications are still down in some parts of the country.
If you want to help with the relief efforts, one of the best groups to support right now is the Ecuador Red Cross. World Vision and UNICEF are both working to help families and children specifically in the affected reasons, and are accepting donations. Samaritan’s Purse, an organization specializing in disaster relief, is also on the ground in Ecuador. Generosity on IndieGoGo, which is currently using donations to buy relief goods for the affected areas.