Quaking in Ecuador

On a personal note, I am behind in my blogging. A recent bout with gout left me pretty much incapacitated from around 12 July. I am almost back to normal (which is no where near 100% anyway) and hope to be back on schedule shortly.

The 2016 Ecuador earthquake took place on April 16 at 5:58 p.m  Ecuador time. Measurements were recorded of 7.8 on the moment magnitude scale (energy released), and, a maximum Mercalli intensity of VIII (on a scale of I: not felt, up to XII: total destruction).

It is estimated that reconstruction will cost $3.344 billion. So far the government has spent over $200 million for emergency items such as food, restoring electrical and water systems, and equipping hospitals. Personal, individual loss is not accounted for in this spending; however, coastal dwellers cannot rebuild on their own.



I was watching TV when it hit, although, hit is hardly the term for what Cuenca experienced.

The whole episode lasted all of a few minutes. It’s difficult to be precise because I’m not sure how long things were going on before I noticed them.  There was a persistent tapping noise coming from the kitchen. I went into the kitchen to see what was making the  noise. At first I couldn’t place it and finally as I circled in on the sound, I realized that the aerial from a boom box radio on top of my fridge was tapping against the wall. I couldn’t figure out what was behind the tapping. I put my hand on the fridge and realized that if was shaking. Crap, I thought, my fridge is breaking down. Then an eerie disorientation took me over and I realized that there had been a slight shift in the floor and a dizzying sensation washed over me. It was a tremor. Having lived for 60 plus years in Toronto, I recognized the tremor for what it was. Toronto occasionally gets them. As well, I had been in San Francisco in the 70s for a minor quake and the feeling was familiar enough for me to confirm what had just happened.

For me, the event was over just around the point where I had figured out what it was. A little later, I went online and made a humorous reference to the tremor in Face Book. The next morning, the news was exclusively on the coastal devastation. I quickly updated my post acknowledging that I had been unaware of the scope of the quake and that, given the horrendous nature of the disaster, I regretted what now seemed an insensitive  reaction.

Now, almost four months later, the state of emergency continues in certain areas. Charitable, government and NGO organizations are at work and updates provide some chilling facts:

  • The death toll is estimated at around 700 people.
  • Recently, as many as 30,000 people out of a total of 73,000 displaced were still living in planned or spontaneous displacement sites.
  • A shortage of drinking water was flagged as a major problem.
  • House pets are also homeless and many of them remain unclaimed.
  • Nearly 7,000 buildings have been destroyed.
  • 560 schools have been affected, with 166 of them suffering medium to severe damage.
  • Health assistance was provided to more than 500,000 people, including 4,605 injured during the first 72 hours of the emergency.

On top of this, there are still aftershocks along the northern coast registering from 4.3 to 5.6. These are going to continue we’re told by authorities. Recently plans were put in place to evacuate islands off the northwest coast’s Manabi and Esmeraldas provinces. These islands are too close to sea level in the event of tsunami.