International Medical Corps is helping deliver emergency medical services to survivors of the magnitude 7.8 earthquake that struck Ecuador on April 16. Longtime First Responder Dr. Robert Fuller is on the ground and working with a team of local volunteer medical professionals to deploy at least four mobile medical teams to provide care in affected areas and provide assistance as needed to damaged hospitals and health facilities.
Dr. Fuller is conducting rapid assessments in some of the most affected areas to identify needs in preparation for the arrival of a mobile medical team shortly thereafter. The team has already assessed the situation in Manabí province, one of the areas hardest hit by the earthquake, where several health facilities are reportedly operating with limited services because of partial damage and lack of electricity and water. The team is now in Portoviejo en route to Pedernales, a town in Manabí province where the earthquake destroyed more than 500 buildings.
“International Medical Corps stands with the people of Ecuador following this tragedy, and we are deploying additional staff to scale up our support for earthquake relief efforts,” said Chris Skopec, Senior Director of Emergency Preparedness and Response at International Medical Corps. “We are committed to supporting the Government of Ecuador and our local partners to deliver medical care and other relief to survivors as well as work with communities to rebuild and recover.”
The worst earthquake to hit Ecuador in decades has killed more than 570 people and left 7,000 others injured. Some 155 people are official registered as missing, while up to 1,700 people reportedly remain unaccounted for. As of April 20, the Government of Ecuador documented that more than 1,100 buildings were destroyed and another 800 were damaged. More than 530 aftershocks have been recorded since April 16, including ones that were 6.1 and 6.0 in magnitude.
The Government of Ecuador activated some $300 million in emergency funds and has been leading the response efforts. The country’s president, Rafael Correa, estimated that reconstruction would cost billions of dollars. Prior to the quake, Ecuador’s economy has been badly hit by low oil prices, and the International Monetary Fund recently said the country would likely see a 4.5 percent drop in GDP this year as a result.
International Medical Corps has responded in the aftermath of historic earthquakes such as the 2015 Nepal earthquake, 2011 Japan earthquake and tsunami, 2010 Haiti earthquake, and the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami.