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Ecuador urges Korea's aid after earthquake

The Ecuadorian Embassy in Seoul is reaching out to Korea for pressing humanitarian support to facilitate relief and reconstruction efforts following the catastrophic earthquake that shook the country on April 16.

During a press conference Friday, Ecuadorian Ambassador Oscar Herrera Gilbert underlined the cataclysmic events that struck his country. The quake has claimed over 600 lives, resulted in 150 missing persons and 8,400 injured people.

On April 16, a 7.8-magnitude earthquake hit Ecuador’s coastal areas, spreading from the epicenter near the city of Padernales in the Manabi province to surrounding provinces of Esmeraldas, Santa Elena, Guayas, Santo Domingo and Los Rios. 
Ecuadorian Ambassador Oscar Herrera Gilbert (Joel Lee / The Korea Herald)
Ecuadorian Ambassador Oscar Herrera Gilbert (Joel Lee / The Korea Herald)

Since, more than 630 aftershocks occurred, including two major ones on April 20 recording 6.1 and 6.3 magnitudes. The barrage of devastation has displaced more than 25,300 residents.

Damage to infrastructure has been significant, with thousands of wrecked buildings and total damage estimated in excess of $3 billion. All six provinces declared a state of emergency to boost relief efforts.

“In terms of intensity, the earthquake is not much different from the one that struck the city of Kumamoto in Japan recently, but its impact is four times larger,” the ambassador underscored. “Ecuador lent a helping hand to Korea during the Korean War (1950-53) through aid and equipment. We are now extending our hands to you.”

The Ecuadorian government has completed the initial phase of rescuing and evacuating victims, and is seeking international cooperation to obtain relief equipment and financial contributions to reconstruct affected areas.

According to the embassy, the most critically needed supplies are large tents, as people are sleeping outdoors as they fear building collapses from future shocks. The country also needs large quantities of sleeping bags, portable and rechargeable lamps, sanitary facilities and medicine.

Considering the distance between Korea and Ecudaor, located on the northwestern bulge of South America on the “Pacific Ring of Fire,” Herrera Gilbert stressed the expediency of financial contribution, mentioning Seoul’s declaration of $700,000 in support funds.

A temporary account at the Korea Exchange Bank (630-010454-081) is open to donations.

The Korea International Cooperation Agency and the Ministry of Health and Welfare have vowed aid in human resources and medical supplies, working in partnership with the Korea Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association.

The city governments of Seoul and Busan have also discussed plans with the embassy to reconstruct afflicted areas. Nongovernmental organizations, including the Red Cross, Save the Children Korea, Good Neighbors in Korea, Plan Korea, Korean Food for the Hungry International and the Korean Disaster Relief Association, have promised to help.

Korean companies SK, Cheong Hai, Hansol, Buryeong and Nature Cell joined relief efforts, alongside Pai Chai University, the Korea Development Institute, Kyung Hee University and Ajou University. Ecuadorian students in Korea started a crowdfunding campaign for donations, together with Colombian students here, collecting over $4,000.

By Joel Lee (joel@heraldcorp.com)
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