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My Family and The Earthquake in Ecuador

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Author: Rosa Mino-Zambrano | Category: Of Interest | April 20, 2016

On Saturday continuing until today all my social media accounts got flooded with messages of people looking for others, and asking for provisions. Then I got cell messages from Ecuadorian friends asking me if my family was ok. 

This past weekend Ecuador, my beautiful home country, suffered an earthquake of magnitude 7.8. 

When I read the news, I scrambled to try and contact my family, and for three hours the despair of not knowing kept me refreshing my phone every two minutes.

I had sent messages to my parents, my sister and my brother who all live in one of the affected provinces. Each, I later found out, had been in a different city and were fine, but the level of tragedy and ruin hitting other friends and family was horrifying.

What the news reports often leave out is how unprepared we were. Natural disasters hit suddenly, but sometimes the damage goes beyond contingency plans in place. Ecuador is not prone to really strong seismic activity, and houses are generally made of concrete and not designed to withstand earthquakes. During seismic activity, these buildings and houses instead of bending, snap, leaving people inside trapped sometimes without hope of rescue. 

At the last count there were 525 fatalities, more than 4000 injured, and 237 reported missing. This is not the final tally. There remain those that are still trapped under rubble whom, if they have survived, would have lost everything they love.

The aftershocks continue hitting the country sometimes with the magnitude of an earthquake itself. The last one on April 20th, was magnitude 6.2 in the already damaged sectors. It impacts rescue efforts and diminishes hope of finding survivors. There have been on and off more than 400 aftershocks and people are scared. 

Terrified of a second hit, some inhabitants in the coastal sector of the country are not longer sleeping inside their still standing homes, and if they are, they do on mattresses close to the exit so that the minute the earth shakes again they can go outside. 

Still, Ecuadorians regardless of whether they suffered loss, are volunteering in a country-wide effort to help those left without home and food. 

My sister’s family is helping at the epicenter, and the rest of my immediate family are collaborating with the Ecuadorian red cross to mobilize the much needed basic necessities. They all say the same thing: survivors need clean water and canned goods desperately. Countries like Venezuela, Chile and Mexico have sent rescue teams to help, and Obama called the Ecuadorian president to offer help. It is not enough.

Ecuadorians that leave whether temporarily or permanently, do so in search of an opportunity. We love our land, and it hurts deeply that the natural paradise that catalyzed Darwin’s theory of evolution is in so much need. 

The media coverage in the U.S. hasn’t been too comprehensive and widespread, so relief efforts and donations are still lacking. And so I ask you, if you can, to contribute. I have added a list of organizations at the end of this page to that end. Anything is useful! The survivors at the epicenter have nothing left.

Ecuadorian Red Cross:


World Food Program USA:

Care Relief Efforts:

Oxfam Emergency Kits:

Photos of Rosa and her family:

Rosa Mino-Zambrano is a graduate student at the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at UT Health Science Center in the Physiology Ph.D. program. The photos have been provided by Rosa's family who lives in the Guayaquil area (the affected area). The photos of the disaster were taken by Ecuadorian rescue volunteers and given to Rosa to use for this blog.  

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