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Earthquake in Ecuador Triggers Large-Scale Humanitarian Action

Saturday night, April 16, 2016, a strong earthquake was registered and felt throughout Ecuador. In Colombia the quake was felt in the cities of Cali, Pasto and Popayan, among others. Reports indicate more than 500 dead, nearly 1,800 missing and more than 2,000 injured.

Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints mourn the loss of 11 of their fellow members.

The Geophysical Institute of Ecuador reports the quake lasted approximately 60 seconds and registered 7.8 degrees in intensity. Its epicenter was on the Ecuadorian coast, between the towns of Cojimíes and Pedernales, in the northern part of the Manabi province, where communities are most affected.

In the aftermath of the quake in Guayaquil, reports include damage to the walls of some buildings, shopping centers unable to function and destruction to pedestrian bridges. However, there are no reports of injuries.

To help manage the consequences of the quake, Ecuadorian Vice President Jorge Glas announced that $300 million of contingency funds are being allocated for relief, along with the mobilization of contingents of firefighters and armed forces to the province of Manabi.

The Geophysical Institute of the National Polytechnic School of Ecuador reports this was the strongest earthquake in the country since 1979 with more than 135 aftershocks.

Ecuadorian news media point out there are also power outages in Quito and the closure of interprovincial highways.

The quake was also felt in border areas of Colombia and Peru, according to reports by Bogota and Lima news media.

While at the Vatican, Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa authorized Vice President Jorge Glas to coordinate contingency measures at the national level. President Correa returned to the country within hours of the tragedy.

Six provinces in Ecuador are declared a state of emergency.

Status of membership of The Church of Jesus Christ following the earthquake

Leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints report a total of 11 deaths among its members in the Manta and Portoviejo Stakes (a stake is similar to a Catholic diocese).

Latter-day Saint chapels

Church leaders also report that nearly a dozen chapels were damaged. The intensity has yet to be confirmed.

Senior leaders of the Church’s South America Northwest Area, based in Lima, Peru, together with local and international Church administrative staff, have prioritized their efforts to attend to the needs of Latter-day Saint families and families of other faiths with the objective of easing their burdens during this difficult time.

The Church’s Welfare and Humanitarian department is coordinating with civil defense authorities to deliver necessary assistance to victims. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is one of the world’s most experienced global organizations in rendering immediate humanitarian aid.

The Mormon Helping Hands program of the Church has also been activated to support the Ecuadorian authorities in preparing aid kits for families that have been affected, helping to meet their physical and emotional needs.

"This is the best moment and opportunity to demonstrate the kind of Christians we are. This is the moment of empathy; of sharing; of mourning for our deceased and comforting their families; of caring for and healing the injured; of drying our tears and beginning the rebuilding our city and our lives. This is the time to do what Jesus expects us to do." This was the impactful declaration made by a local Latter-day Saint leader in Ecuador.

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