Even a week on from the 7.8 magnitude earthquake that struck Ecuador on Saturday, April 16, many roads remain impassable, making the task of searching for the missing, and providing aid for survivors increasingly difficult. The three coastal cities of Manta, Portoviejo and Pedernales were almost completely destroyed by the quake, following which Malteser International immediately established contact with the local National Association of the Order of Malta, who have been distributing clothes, food, medication and mattresses to the survivors since the day after the disaster.
At present, there are around 10,000 local military personnel and 4,000 police officers undertaking search-and-rescue activities, while other countries in the region, including Mexico, Colombia, and Venezuela, have already dispatched their own aid teams to Ecuador. Because of the strength of the local response, Malteser International will not be dispatching its own team at present. “The local and regional forces are best equipped and qualified to provide rescue and first aid to the people in Ecuador,” said Ingo Radtke, Secretary General of Malteser International. “However, we will remain in close contact with the Order of Malta in Ecuador, and we will observe further developments. If our help is needed in the second phase of the relief effort, or in the rebuilding process, we are ready to provide immediate aid via the Malteser International Americas Headquarters, and our local partners on the ground, to help the people in Ecuador to get back on their feet.”
Infrastructure has collapsed in many areas affected by the quake, leaving locals without power and drinking water. Providing them with water, and restoring basic sanitation are among the top priorities. Rebuilding is expected to take some time. Even now, one of the primary concerns is how people can be better protected from future quakes and volcanic activity.
The number of those that lost their lives in the earthquake has risen to almost 600, while 155 people remain missing. More than 7,000 people have been wounded, and almost 25,000 are now living under emergency shelters. In total, over seven million people are thought to have been affected by the disaster.