Days after an intense weekend earthquake rocked Ecuador causing hundreds of deaths and billions in damage, Colombian authorities are still working to locate and bring home hundreds of nationals affected by the disaster.
The country has also sent dozens of aid workers carrying supplies, joining an international effort to help those affected.
Number of Colombians in Ecuador
Number of Colombians receiving Ministry of Exterior assistance
Number of Colombians still missing
Number of Colombians dead
*All numbers updated as of April 20
**Source: Cancillería Colombia
As of Wednesday, Colombia’s Ministry of the Exterior announced that more than 750 Colombians in Ecuador had received government assistance, and more than 40 have been brought back to the country safely.
Some 160 Colombian nationals have yet to be located and at least 11 have been confirmed dead as of Wednesday morning, as the total number of casualties stemming from the quake climbed to nearly 600.
More than 7,000 people have been reported injured and tens of thousands are in shelters, according to Ecuadorian officials.
The 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck the Pacific coast Saturday night, but hundreds of aftershocks have shaken the country since then in an area with a radius of more than 100 miles, including the capital of Quito.
Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa, who was out of the country during the quake, has said that he will raise some taxes in order to help rebuild the country. The damage is expected to cost billions of dollars to repair.
The remains of at least five Colombians have been brought back to the country, as efforts to locate and identify additional affected nationals both living and deceased continue.
Officials estimate that more than 100,000 Colombians live in Ecuador.
“The requirement for assistance is that one be a Colombian citizen in an emergency situation,” said Colombia’s Exterior Ministry Director of Consular and Migratory Affairs Javier Darío Higuera on Wednesday.
“As we have received a number of requests, we are prioritizing based on the extent of vulnerability of each person.”
Colombia has six consulates in Ecuador and points of attention have been established in the affected region.
Fernando Panesso, Colombia’s ambassador to Ecuador took the opportunity to stress the importance of registering with an embassy when traveling or living abroad.
“The first question people ask is ‘how many Colombians are in Ecuador?’” explained Panesso in a video statement released this week. “People don’t always see the utility in registering when they go through passport or immigration checks … but in an emergency such as this, people can be lost.”
The message from Colombia was overwhelmingly one of condolence and solidarity.
“We would like to express to the government and the people of Ecuador our solidarity for the human loss, for the pain of those affected,” said Ministry of the Exterior representatives in a statement released Sunday.
“We will remain in contact with Ecuadorian authorities in order to provide any help needed to overcome this lamentable and difficult situation.”
On Sunday, President Juan Manuel Santos ordered more than 60 of the country’s top rescue crew to Ecuador. Air Force and Navy personnel were also called into action.
Colombian rescue workers carried with them water and supplies.
“We have offered all the help they need,” said Santos. “In this kind of situation, it’s important to send what is really necessary. We have been asked to send rescue workers, water and supplies above all else.”
Bogotá’s district government also pledged support for Ecuadorian emergency crews.
On Sunday, Mayor Enrique Peñalosa announced that the city would send 40 firefighters, two structural engineers, two doctors and two search and rescue dogs to Manta, near the epicenter of the earthquake.
“Our solidarity with Ecuador,” tweeted Peñalosa shortly after receiving news of the disaster.
In total, aid workers from at least eight countries and several non-governmental organizations are assisting with rescue and clean up efforts.