At least 400 people died as a result of the earthquake of 7.8° on the Richter scale which occurred last Saturday in the northwest of Ecuador, according to the latest data from the Fiscalía General of the Republic.
Fr Luis Mosquera, SDB, Rector of the community of Manta, and the other Salesians, have been busy giving a Christian burial to the victims and offering a word of comfort to those who have suffered bereavement. They wait in hope as they see the rescuers trying to save people trapped in the rubble.
"There are 1800 students in the Salesian College of 'San Jose' who have been left homeless. Many of them live in the area near the school, where the damage is irreparable and there are stories of great sorrow for the loss of loved ones," says Mr Marcelo Mejia, Delegate for Social Communication of the Province of Ecuador.
The Salesian Church of Our Lady of the Rosary is closed due to structural damage, but it is common to see the faithful praying at the door. Fr Rubinsky Sanchez, parish priest of over 8,000 faithful, welcomes them and assists them along with the parish workers.
Fr Molina has formed a support team to address this difficult crisis. The damage to the school, the community, the Parish Church and the retreat house is very serious. Provinces in different countries have sent messages of solidarity and are coordinating with the Provincial Economer ways of helping in these difficult times.
Meanwhile, with the motto "We cannot solve everything, but we can help in something, especially in the areas where the Salesians are present " all the Salesian houses in the country have been working to collect emergency aid and coordinate the work of volunteers in the areas most affected by the strong earthquake.
"We are helping more than 7,000 families. We need funds to buy food and medicine; the people are in great despair and their pain continues at the loss of their loved ones. In the future we will have to repair the damage, but for now we have to attend to the people first" say the Salesians.
Further information is available on the site of the Salesians in Ecuador.