It’s hard to fully understand tragedy until it hits us. And that’s what many individuals had to experience last Saturday, when at 6:58pm, an earthquake of magnitude 7.8 struck Ecuador. At first, it was taken for one of the common earthquakes that often strike the South American nation’s coasts.
But when entire homes started to shake, doors and windows slammed and shattered, and shelves emptied their contents in the supermarket, panic broke out. Alarms blared and people crowded store exits, desperate to escape but unsure of where to go.
The earthquake left many people shaken on Saturday night, but the ones who escaped unscathed were lucky. Hundreds have lost all of their belongings, and many have lost even more than that. The strongest and deadliest earthquake to hit Ecuador since 1987, the death toll has been climbing since Saturday, and is currently at 570. Each day, anxious people crowd the ruins of homes, cars, and hotels, calling for lost family, friends, and pets. Days have passed but much of the rubble still remains to be uncovered, and there’s no knowing what it hides. The lucky ones are pulled out alive by search teams, but the rest are still missing. More than 2,500 have been injured, and hospitals are filled with patients.
The most dramatically affected area of the nation was the coastal province of Manabi, where about 200 people alone died according to Ricardo Penaherrera from the national emergency management office of Ecuador. In an effort to mitigate the gloom brought on but such destruction, President Rafael Correa has toured a number of hospitals and cities, visiting patients in the early hours of the morning to attempt to strengthen their resolve and maintain national unity.
However, through the days marked by despondency and melancholy, some happy endings have emerged, as search teams combing through the rubble have miraculously encountered a few survivors. Nevertheless, time is running out for many. Getting enough supplies and rescue crews for every community in need is nearly impossible, and the lack of resources and communication has made this even more difficult. But despite death and misfortune, hope has carried on, with thousands lending helping hands to their compatriots.
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