QUITO – The magnitude-7.8 earthquake that struck Ecuador’s northern Pacific coast on April 16 is the Western Hemisphere’s worst natural disaster since the temblor that devastated Haiti in 2010, the UN humanitarian coordinator in the Andean nation said on Tuesday.
The United Nations is making an urgent appeal for aid for Ecuador, Diego Zorrilla told a press conference in Quito.
The death toll from the quake stands at 655, according to the latest figures from the Ecuadorian government, while thousands of people have been forced from their homes.
The United Nations expects to raise $72.2 million to care for roughly 350,000 people over the next three months.
Zorrilla praised the Ecuadorian government for quickly implementing measures to channel humanitarian aid to the hardest-hit areas.
The UN official also expressed admiration for the individual Ecuadorians who have donated supplies or their own time and labor to aid the residents of the disaster area.
“We think, however, that we are now in a different phase of response. One in which we have to have a response that is organized,” Zorrilla said.