UN supporting authorities in Ecuador following strongest earthquake in decades

A 7.8 magnitude earthquake which hit Ecuador on 16 April 2016 caused death and destruction. Photo: UNICEF Ecuador

18 April 2016 – While the Government of Ecuador is leading the response to continue helping people and communities affected by Saturday’s 7.8 magnitude earthquake, the United Nations announced it has deployed relief teams to provide additional support.

“The Secretary-General commends the Ecuadorean authorities for their leadership in the rescue effort and in providing relief to affected communities,” said a statement issued by Ban Ki-moon’s spokesperson.

It further indicated that Emergency Relief Coordinator Stephen O’Brien, who leads the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), has deployed a Disaster and Assessment Coordination (UNDAC) team, which stands ready to provide additional support.

OCHA announced that Mr. O'Brien is expected to travel to Ecuador later today to see for himself the impact of the temblor. He is expected to meet affected communities, as well as senior officials, emergency responders, and humanitarian organizations, to support national response efforts and mobilize donor support for the relief and recovery operation. The UN relief chief is expected to speak to media in Ecuador’s capital, Quito, on 20 April.

According to the latest assessment, more than 230 people died in central Ecuador and thousands were injured in the earthquake, reportedly the strongest in decades.

“The authorities continue to assess the impact and damage, but so far we know that across Manabi and Esmeralda provinces, the earthquake has damaged or destroyed homes, hospitals, roads and businesses, power lines have been cut and tens of thousands of people are currently sheltering in evacuation centres,” Mr. O’Brien said.

He noted that a state of emergency has been declared in six regions, and the Government has asked for international assistance.

“The United Nations and our humanitarian partners stand ready to support the people and the authorities with any expertise and support they may need,” he stressed, adding that World Health Organization (WHO) has deployed a mobile medical emergency team.

The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) also announced it has delivered 20,000 water purification tablets to Pedernales, the worst affected area, while the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) is readying preparations for a major aid airlift, expected in the next 48 hours, to help people who have been displaced.

Operational planning has been underway today in Copenhagen – UNHCR’s global logistics hub – for a first plane bound for Quito carrying core relief items including some 900 tents, plastic sheets, 15,000 sleeping mats, kitchen sets and, in view of the Zika virus risk, 18,000 much-needed repellant-impregnated mosquito nets.

Meanwhile, the United Nations Secretary-General today said the world body stands ready to provide assistance to Japan following powerful earthquakes that struck Kumamoto province last Thursday and Saturday, killing over 40 people and displacing some 110,000 from their homes.

“The Secretary-General sends his deepest condolences to the people and Government of Japan and to all affected communities, wishing a speedy recovery to those injured. He commends the Government, emergency responders and other civil society organizations who are sparing no efforts to help people in need and to restore essential services,” said a statement issued by Mr. Ban’s spokesperson.


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