First aid flight arrives in Ecuador carrying 60 tons of aid

Published: 20 April 2016 13:20 CET

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has sent a major aid delivery into Ecuador following the 16 April earthquake which has killed hundreds of people and left thousands more in need of emergency shelter.

The magnitude 7.8 earthquake was centred on the Esmeraldas province and caused damage to homes, roads and health infrastructure. Continuing aftershocks are hampering relief efforts and may have further impact on health services. Walter Cotte, the Americas Regional Director for IFRC said needs in the area were complex, and likely to increase as assessments came in from more remote areas of the country. “We are working on a very big operation in six provinces that are among the most affected. The Ecuadorian Red Cross will focus its response in rural and remote areas and on providing support to vulnerable groups, wound management and psychosocial support,” he said.

The rapid deployment of aid has been managed through the IFRC’s Americas Regional Logistics Warehouse in Panama, and has been delivered on a chartered plane. It will be distributed by staff and volunteers from the Ecuadorian Red Cross on the ground. The content has been pulled from prepositioned stocks from the IFRC, as well as the Canadian Red Cross, Norwegian Red Cross and the International Committee of the Red Cross.

Ecuador earthquake response graphic


In addition to aid supplies, the shipment includes three satellite phones which will improve communications on the ground, providing a reliable means to get information from remote areas to disaster managers at the Ecuadorian Red Cross. 

“This first charter flight to arrive in Ecuador is really important for us as it will allow us increase our support to the tens of thousands of people who have been affected” said Diego Castellanos, Communications Manager for the Ecuadorian Red Cross. “The first hours after a disaster of that scale are crucial. We need to respond as quickly as possible to alleviate suffering."

Stephany Murillo, Acting Head of IFRC Americas Regional Logistics, said the deployment had to be fast to have the most impact. “This isn’t just a matter of putting things on a plane and sending them over to another country,” she said. “It’s a long process that involves a great deal of hard work in keeping track of everything, taking it out of storage and transporting it to the airport to unpack it and do it all over again inside the plane.”

Once the plane lands in Ecuador, the most difficult part of the operation begins. “On the ground, it’s backbreaking work, but we’re happy to do it if it means bringing some measure of relief to the families in Ecuador who are going through such a difficult time,” Murillo said.

Ecuadorian Red Cross appeal