MANABI PROVINCE, Ecuador (Christian Examiner)—North American evangelicals are responding to a devastating weekend earthquake in the small South American country of Ecuador.
The 7.8 magnitude earthquake—the worst in nearly three decades—killed at least 272 people, according to CNN. At least 2,527 people are injured or missing. The government has already declared a state of emergency for all six of its coastal provinces—Guayas, Manabi, Santo Domingo, Los Rios, Esmeraldas and Galapagos.
According to a press release by Samaritan's Purse, the North Carolina-based relief ministry has personnel on the ground in the country and a team of seven staff members on the way to help.
"The earthquake in Ecuador last night has caused incredible destruction. We're responding so that we can show the people there the love of Christ and help relieve their suffering. Please keep them in your prayers," said Samaritan's Purse President Franklin Graham in the release.
Samaritan's Purse notes that the needs for medical assistance and clean drinking water are "urgent." The organization says it is prepared to respond to both needs along with providing much-needed shelter for those impacted.
World Vision, based in Federal Way, Wash., is working in Esmeraldas and Manabi provinces to provide emergency kits, temporary shelter and "child-friendly places" for families impacted by the earthquake. They also note that they are working with local emergency shelters to provide relief to the most vulnerable of those impacted.
World Vision's national director in Ecuador, José Luis Ochoa, said in Sunday's release that they are particularly concerned about children and "ensuring their needs are met."
"This is the worst earthquake to strike Ecuador since 1987, when 1,000 people were killed. It was a truly terrifying event felt across the country," Ochoa said. "The people of Ecuador spent a night worried about further shocks and today finding out about the extent of the damage."
Baptist Global Response, the international responders for Southern Baptist Disaster Relief, says that its area director is currently assessing the situation with national partners in Ecuador. They will determine when and if disaster relief teams may be necessary. If they determine Baptist volunteers are needed, the first teams will likely be comprised of nationals from Ecuador.
A Portland-area Christian school had a team of students studying in Ecuador as the earthquake hit. On Sunday Greater Portland Christian School reported on Facebook that all of its students were safe. Since the country's airport in Manta was still open, the students would follow the original return plans.
"We are all fine but one church family lost the house they were building," the team wrote on Facebook. "When the kids saw them at the church last night, they took up an impromptu offering for the family. It was their own idea, and the family was very grateful."
They also noted that the local Ecuadorian church where they are at is praying for God to bring revival to the country. They asked their families to pray for that as well.
CNN reports that the earthquake's death toll is expected to rise in the coming days. Ecuador has deployed 10,000 soldiers and 4,600 police officers to the impacted area. Rescue efforts are focused on trying to find people buried in the rubble.
"The first hours are crucial," President Rafael Correa said Sunday night. "We're finding signs of life in the rubble. We're giving this priority. After, we'll work to find and recover bodies."
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