“Nature has once again hit one of the poorest areas of Latin America. On Saturday night an earthquake measuring 7.8 ° on the Richter scale devastated a part of Ecuador, causing unimaginable tragedy. At least 272 people died and over 2,000 were injured. Many others remain under the rubble.” That is how the newspaper “El País” described the quake. On his return to the country President Rafael Correa said “the damage is serious and we have dozens of deaths.” The situation for the Salesians was not good. The Salesian house in Manta was damaged.
The most affected cities were Manta, Portoviejo and Pedernales. The Salesians in Manta run a school, a parish, an oratory and a centre for street children. There is also a centre for the Salesian Cooperators and the Past Pupils’ Union. Marcelo Mejia says: “At present they are continuing with the removal of the rubble, looking for survivors trapped in the ruins of collapsed buildings as a result of the earthquake.”
“Fr Luis Mosquera, Rector of the Manta community, reported that the confreres are in good health. The Salesians and a group of young people are accompanying the earthquake victims and many people are in dialogue with the Salesians to receive a word of comfort in these difficult times. There is much nervousness and pain. There is no news from the Salesians of the communities in Esmeraldas, Guayaquil and Machala,” added Mr Mejia.
Despite the damage caused to their buildings in Manta, especially the retreat house and the parish church, the Salesians are involved in helping needy families and are offering hope, serenity and spiritual support.