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A magnitude-7.8 quake struck costal Ecuador on Saturday evening, local time. At least 272 people have been confirmed dead and more than 1 500 people injured after the most powerful earthquake in Ecuador in decades. The death toll is expected to rise significantly as rescue workers reach deeper into the affected areas. Massive material damage has also been reported, including on key infrastructures. Ecuador sits on the so-called 'Ring of Fire' – an arc of high seismic activity that extends around the Pacific basin.
Following the deadly earthquake, the European Commission has taken immediate steps to provide coordinated European support to the relief efforts. The European Union has today released € 1 million as initial humanitarian aid to the victims of the earthquake in Ecuador while detailed assessment of the needs is underway. This assistance will be delivered through EU's humanitarian partners in the country.
"The EU is fully committed to supporting the international relief efforts to assist the thousands affected by the earthquake in Ecuador. We are already channelling emergency assistance through the EU Civil Protection Mechanism, to provide life-saving support to those in need. The Commission's humanitarian experts are also on their way to the affected areas to assist in relief efforts and assess the need for further assistance", said Christos Stylianides, EU Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management.
The EU Civil Protection Mechanism was activated upon the request of Ecuadorian authorities and the United Nations, requesting emergency assistance such as urban search and rescue teams and night lights, as well as expertise. The mobilisation of assistance is coordinated through the Commission's Emergency Response Coordination Centre (ERCC), which closely monitors developments. Offers of assistance are incoming from Spain, France, Poland and other participating states.
First deployments are already underway since the early hours of Monday, with the EU facilitating logistics and co-financing the transport of emergency assets to the affected areas. Moreover, advanced satellite imagery generated through EU's Copernicus system is being provided to Ecuador to facilitate the assessment of damage in the areas around the epicentre and beyond.
Expert staff at the Commission's Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department (ECHO) in the capital Quito were immediately mobilised to assist with the assessment of needs and liaise with emergency services. Additional EU experts from the region are on their way to the affected areas to ensure an effective and coordinated EU response.
Read more about the European Union's Civil Protection Mechanism.
Read more about EU humanitarian aid in South America.