“There is nothing natural about the aftermath of a natural disaster,” sophomore Kami Chan said. “There is no mercy when it destroys everything in its path.”
On the evening of Saturday, April 16, an earthquake of magnitude 7.8 devastated Ecuador. The catastrophe demolished many coastal towns, killing 654 people and forcing more than 26,000 others into shelters. Most of the deaths occurred in the Ecuadorian cities of Manta, Portoviejo and Pedernales, located along the country’s coast.
This recent tragedy is the worst the country has seen in decades, making it the deadliest earthquake to hit Ecuador since 1987, which claimed 1,000 lives. 58 people remain missing and over 12,000 are injured according to Ecuador’s Risk Management Office.
With at least $3 billion in damage, Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa cautioned the public that the reconstruction effort will take years. To help fund the relief measures, taxes will be temporarily raised for the next year.
Thousands of miles away from the destruction, many of our own students here at Seattle University have
Seattle U students Julia Cordero, Katie Furlan and Victor DeSimone will be planning a fundraising event on campus in the near future. Having gone on an ecotourism trip to Ecuador this past spring break, the students wish to help in any way they can.
“The earthquake happened a few weeks after we got back, so the trip is really fresh in our minds,” Cordero said. “[The fundraiser] is very hard to organize because everyone’s busy but we’re trying our hardest.”
The students traveled to three different Ecuadorian cities, two of which they went to for reforestation efforts. One of the cities, Bahía de Caráquez, was completely decimated. It is located only a few miles south of
“It’s really difficult. People that we met and a lot of us cared about have been affected,” Cordero said. “Their houses are non-existent—they’re not standing.”
The fundraiser tentatively consists of a print, made by Cordero, being sold online, as well as plans to have a tamale making party. Although a date has not been officially set, the eventual proceeds will hopefully aid in reconstruction efforts being pursued in the country that was home to the students for one short week.
“It’s really hard to believe that I was there, that that was a place I went and a place that I enjoyed and a place where I made new friends, Ecuadorian and from here,” Cordero said. “Just to think that a place that I really love is destroyed.”
Japan also suffered a series of earthquakes in the Kumamoto Prefecture of the Kyushu region from April 14 to 16, one of which was magnitude 7.0. At least 41 people died and thousands are injured and have been evacuated from their homes.
Rescue efforts were hampered by the bad weather, as the threat of landslides made the situation all the more dire. The Kumamoto government has opened over 100 evacuation centers.
For Chan and her family, the waiting game has proven to be the hardest of all.
“Thankfully, none of my family who live in Japan suffered. But their friends and family in that region were injured pretty severely,” Chan said. “It’s awful having so much here but being so helpless to do anything there. All you can do is wait and see.”
Chan further explained that while her family longed to go help, the fear of more aftershocks may make it too dangerous to pursue just yet. Landslides have also affected road access in the remote mountain area.
“It’s hard to believe it’s real. When my mom saw the pictures over the news and called back home to see if everyone was alright, she couldn’t even stop shaking,” Chan said. “I feel very blessed and also very guilty, that I can be relieved by my lack of loss when so many people weren’t as lucky.”
Because of Japan’s location along what is known as the Ring of Fire in the Pacific ocean, more volcanic activity and severe earthquakes are expected.
The respective regions’ relief divisions will be doing everything they can to recover from these calamities.
Vikki may be reached at