Late on Saturday night, Ecuador was hit by a 7.8 magnitude earthquake, the most violent in 35 years. The country’s coastal regions were worst affected. Some 300 people have been killed, more than 2,500 others are believed to have been injured, and in excess of 70,000 people may also have been directly affected by the disaster.
“The number of people who suffer crush fractures is particularly high during earthquakes,” explains Eric Weerts, Handicap International’s emergency specialist. “Many people also suffer injuries that can lead to amputations, nerve damage with limb paralysis, or spinal cord injuries that can give rise to paralysis. When medical facilities are disorganised or destroyed, as is the case with Manta hospital in the severely affected Maniba district, we use our expertise to ensure the injured receive appropriate care and treatment.”
To help the injured recover and to avoid the development of permanent sequelae, Handicap International’s response could focus on rehabilitation needs. The organisation has put its teams in Bolivia and Colombia on alert to prepare a response in aid of people most badly affected by the earthquake.
Handicap International is familiar with earthquakes and intervened in 2015 in aid of victims of the earthquake that killed 8,700 people and injured 22,000 others in Nepal, where it provided rehabilitation care and distributed emergency kits.