Ecuador: Red Cross responds to deadly earthquake; anticipates urgent health needs

Published: 17 April 2016

Geneva/ Panama, 17 April 2016 - More than 800 volunteers and staff of the Ecuadorian Red Cross are responding to a strong earthquake on Ecuador`s pacific coast.  Red Cross staff and volunteers are in the affected communities, carrying out search and rescue activities and providing ambulance services and first aid.

“This is a terrible day for the people of Ecuador.

“Red Cross volunteers are working around the clock to find survivors of this disaster.

“Our international network is giving the Ecuadorian Red Cross all support to respond to this terrible disaster,” said Walter Cotte, the Americas Regional Director for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).

“This was a strong quake and at a depth of 19km, the damage will be extensive.  In the coming days, we can expect acute health needs around trauma care and psychosocial support. The Ecuadorian Red Cross is already working with the International Committee of the Red Cross in reconnecting family members.

In addition to the hundreds of search and rescue volunteers now working in Esmeraldas, Manabi, Portoviejo and Guayaquil, the Ecuadorian Red Cross has also mobilized health teams and hospital units, and deployed a National Disaster Response Team to carry out a rapid assessment of the humanitarian needs following the earthquake.

“Depending on the number of health facilities affected there may also be urgent needs around maternal and obstetric care. We should also have to expect urgent needs around food, water, sanitation and shelter,” said Cotte.

Reports from the Disaster Management Directorate of Ecuador stated that there are at least 233 dead and approximately 1,557 injured.  These numbers are expected to quickly rise in the coming days as the extent of the damages become clearer. From the first assessments, Manabí appears to be one of the most affected regions, with numerous collapsed structures throughout Portoviejo and Pedernales.

The 7.8 magnitude quake occurred in the early evening of 16 April, with its epicentre in Esmeraldas province. A tsunami alert has been issued, and a state of emergency has been declared. Roads have been badly damaged, bridges have collapsed, and power supplies have been affected. 

The IFRC is supporting the volunteers and staff of the Ecuadorian Red Cross through its American regional network, and has pre-positioned disaster relief stock in Ecuador. The National Red Cross Societies of Peru and Spain are also on standby to assist the earthquake response operation.

Assessment teams are currently evaluating the immediate and long-term needs of the affected communities, and more information on the Red Cross response will be announced in due course.

For further information, please contact:

In Quito

Diego Castellanos, Communication manager, Ecuadorian Red Cross

Tel: +593 997 80 98 34

In Panama:

Diana Medina, IFRC communications manager, Americas regional office.

Tel: + 507 678 05 395 Email:

In Geneva:

Benoit Carpentier, IFRC team leader, public communications

Tel: +41 79 213 2413 Email: Twitter: @BenoistC

Reeni Amin Chua, IFRC senior communications officer

Tel: +41 79 708 6273 Email:

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is the world’s largest volunteer-based humanitarian network, reaching 150 mil­lion people each year through its 190 member National Societies. Together, the IFRC acts before, during and after disasters and health emergencies to meet the needs and improve the lives of vulnerable people. It does so with impartiality as to nationality, race, gender, religious beliefs, class and political opinions. For more information, please visit You can also connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Flickr.