Esmeraldas (Agenzia Fides) - According to the latest news, the earthquake that struck the coast of Ecuador on Saturday, April 16, has so far caused at least 272 dead and 2,068 injured. Among the victims there is a religious sister and five postulants of the "Siervas del Hogar de la Madre" Sisters community in Playa Prieta. According to information sent to Agenzia Fides, the relief efforts managed to reach the spot only 24 hours after the earthquake.
Among the rubble the lifeless bodies of missionary Sister Clare Crocket (Irish, for 15 years in Ecuador) and 5 postulants were found: Jazmina, María Augusta, Maira, Valeria and Catalina. Rescuers managed to pull out, live but wounded, three other sisters of the community, now hospitalized: Sister Estela Morales (Spanish), Sister Merly (Ecuadorian), Sister Thérèse Ryan (Irish), and two Ecuadorian postulants: Guadalupe y Mercedes.
The Siervas del Hogar de la Madre run a school on the Coast which, according to social networks in the area, was completely destroyed by the earthquake.
"In the face of the earthquake, the Bishops of Ecuador want to offer a word of faith in the Lord to the Ecuadorian people" is what is written in the statement of the Episcopal Conference Ecuador sent to Fides. "Our thoughts - write the Bishops - go especially to our brothers and sisters in the provinces of Manabi and Esmeraldas, who seem so far to be the most affected, and we invite everyone to participate in the national collection for the victims, in order to help them in their most urgent needs".
Fides also received the first report of Caritas-Ecuador, which indicates that it has received 4,068 requests for help from 23 provinces in the country, including calls even from Ipiales and Pasto, two cities of Colombia.
The Secretariat of the Civil Protection of the Government of Ecuador reported that the earthquake, magnitude 7.8 on the Richter scale, was the strongest since 1979 and declared the Pacific coast an emergency zone, namely 6 provinces: Esmeraldas, Los Ríos, Manabí, Santa Elena, Guayas and Santo Domingo. (CE) (Agenzia Fides, 18/04/2016)