The situation in Ecuador
What is needed to help the people affected?
According to information gathered in Quito by the assessment team, the most urgent needs are water, sanitation, health and shelter:
- Access to safe drinking water is a priority
- Access to water trucks and cisterns
- Shelter for those who lost homes.
The main concern is the risk of infections and diseases among people at shelters due to poor sanitary conditions, 21,000 people are reported being sheltered according to OCHA. People in homes without running water also have a high risk of diarrhoea and other infections.
Populations in the most affected areas are in need of food as access to markets is limited and some are closed .
What caused this earthquake?
Earthquakes are common in Ecuador, although the latest is believed to be the most powerful since 1979. There have been seven magnitude 7 or greater earthquakes within 250km of the latest once since 1900, resulting in hundreds of fatalities. The country is located on the boundary between the Nazca and South American tectonic plates, which accounts for the seismic activity and many volcanoes in the country. Earthquakes have sometimes produced tsunamis which pose a great risk to coastal communities.
How does this compare with other recent earthquakes?
The latest earthquake was magnitude 7.8 and is believed to be the most powerful to hit Ecuador since 1979. Although stronger than the Nepal earthquake in April 2015, initial reports suggest it is not nearly as destructive - partly as a result of better construction standards in Ecuador.
According to the US Geological Service, there have been seven magnitude 7 or greater earthquakes within 250 km of the latest one since 1900.
- On 31 January 1906, a magnitude 8.3 earthquake occurred 90 km to the northeast of the current one, resulting in a tsunami that caused 500-1,500 deaths.
- On 6 March 1987, a magnitude 7.2 earthquake resulted in approximately 1,000 deaths.