On April 16, 2016 at 6:58pm local time, an earthquake registering 7.8 magnitude struck off Ecuador’s northwest coast at a depth of 20 kilometers, causing widespread damage. The epicenter of the quake was about 27 kilometers from the northwestern town of Muisne and 170 kilometers from Quito.
As of April 18, 2016, more than 300 people have been confirmed dead, more than 2,600 people injured. These figures are expected to continue to rise as assessments teams gain access to remote affected areas.
Affected populations are Ecuadorians and Colombians living in the northern part of the country. The Restoring Family Links (RFL) response aims to help those affected in Ecuador and abroad, to inquire about their family members and ensure they are okay.
The Ecuadorian Red Cross (ERC) has RFL teams in the areas most hit by the earthquake. It is undertaking an evaluation but has not yet assessed all affected areas so RFL needs may increase. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is providing support through the deployment of two RFL specialists.
The Colombian Red Cross has also activated its RFL services accordingly.
If you or someone you know are trying to contact a family member affected by the earthquake, the American Red Cross can help. To begin your search, please contact your local American Red Cross chapter. You can also submit an inquiry online through the International Reconnecting Families Inquiry Form or by calling 202-303-1600.
If your inquiry concerns a U.S. citizen, please also contact the U.S. Department of State, Office of Overseas Citizens Services, at 1-888-407-4747 (from the United States and Canada) or 1-202-501-4444 (from overseas) or online at http://travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/emergencies.html
In addition to submitting an inquiry through the Red Cross, it is highly advised that you continue trying to contact your loved ones via phone, text, email or social media. Remember, calling during off-peak hours may help to get through clogged phone lines. You may also want to consider contacting other family members or neighbors who live nearby or may also be concerned about the sought person
For more information on the reconnecting families work of the American Red Cross, please visit redcross.org/reconnectingfamilies.