Esmeraldas (Agenzia Fides) - Don Luis Fernando Criado Reca, Spanish diocesan priest of Jaen, has been a missionary in Ecuador for 12 years. He is currently parish priest in the northern province of Esmeraldas, on the border with Colombia. It is a marginalized and very poor area, mostly inhabited by people of African origin, who mostly live below the poverty line. Fides received his testimony on the earthquake that devastated Ecuador.
"On Saturday, April 16, a few moments before starting Mass in Lagarto community, we experienced a major earthquake, which left us in the dark. We all ran out of the church, while the earth trembled and continued to tremble. After the scare we went back into the temple and celebrated Mass, thanking the Lord, among other things, that we are alive. The southern province of Esmeraldas and in particular the province of Manabì, was very affected by the earthquake. Cities like Portoviejo, Manta, Canoa, Pedernales, etc. are destroyed. After the earthquake the country mobilized and solidarity does not stop. Volunteers from all over are working to collect water, blankets and non-perishable food.
These communities need our support, from the most basic things and our prayer, asking the Lord of life to give them the strength to calmly deal with the disaster, and have the courage to move forward".
Currently the country is in a state of national emergency. The number of victims, according to government data, has risen to at least 507, while the Ministry of Defense estimates that 231 are missing. According to other testimonies sent to Fides, one cannot get exact figures because there are small towns on the border with Colombia which cannot be reached, because the roads are completely destroyed, therefore the number of victims could be higher. (CE) (Agenzia Fides, 20/04/2016)