Ecuador: Earthquake - Emergency Plan of Action (EPoA), DREF Operation MDREC019


A. Situation analysis

Description of the disaster

On 26 March, a 6.0-magnitude earthquake was recorded in Ecuador at approximately 11:28 pm. According to Special Seismic Report 2022-001 issued by the Geophysics Institute (IGEPN), the epicentre was located off the coast of Esmeraldas at a depth of 28 km. The event is associated with the convergence zone of the Nazca and South American plates, to which the 8.6-magnitude earthquake that hit Ecuador in 1906 is attributed, as well as subsequent earthquakes in 1942, 1958, 1979, and 2016.

All the latter were of a magnitude greater than 7.7, making them major earthquakes. According to IGEPN and SNGRE reports, the earthquake was felt with different levels of intensity in 63 cantons across 11 provinces:

  • HIGH: 7 in Esmeraldas

  • MODERATE: 24 in Santo Domingo, Cotopaxi, Pichincha, Guayas and Manabí

  • LOW: 32 in Los Ríos, Pastaza, Guayas, Imbabura, Carchi and Bolívar

The analysis of seismicity in the area indicated the occurrence of two small earthquakes (magnitude <= 2.0) hours before the 6.0 magnitude, local, using vertical displacement (MLv)-magnitude event at 11:39 pm TL on Saturday, 26 March. After the event, 15 earthquakes with magnitudes between 1.7 and 5.1 MLv were located. Likewise, a bulletin issued by the Navy Oceanographic Institute (INOCAR) indicated that the earthquake did not meet the necessary conditions to generate a tsunami along the Ecuadorian coastline and insular region.

Immediately after the event, response teams from relief entities such as the Red Cross, Firefighters, National Police, Armed Forces, and SNGRE were activated to perform search and rescue, pre-hospital care (PHC), evacuation, humanitarian assistance, psychosocial support (PSS), emergency shelter, and damage and needs assessment actions in the zones of impact, which generated the preliminary data regarding damages.

After a few days, it became evident that the number of affected families continued to increase in different neighbourhoods, as many houses already had previous structural damage from the 2016 earthquake which was worsened by this earthquake. Initial assessments were slow as teams on the field found it difficult to collect data due to aftershocks. However, as of 7 April, daily situation reports are being published by SNGRE to update the situation generated by this local emergency.

The damage to housing infrastructure has been classified from slight to serious. The fact that damage has not been uniform across the territory has required a more specific damage identification process. Many of the houses found to have suffered slight damage during initial assessments were later found to have suffered considerable damage from the aftershocks. Therefore, multiple visits had to take place at different points in time to update the initial assessment data. This has generated a flow of changing information, meaning that estimates will take longer than in other emergencies.

According to the Situation Report No. 17 issued on 6 April 2022 by SNGRE, the main damages registered include:

  • Two emergency collective centres were opened by local authorities to provide comprehensive care to people with damaged homes:

The rest of affected families have been taken in by friends and families, while others have chosen to build informal shelters made of plastic sheeting and wood next to their homes to guard their belongings.

  • The map below shows the most affected areas, areas where family censuses have been performed, the collection points set up, and the emergency collective centres opened:

  • The number of people affected by the earthquake continues to increase on a daily basis. As per Situation Report No. 17, 4,097 people have haven reported to be affected mainly in rural parishes of Esmeralda including Tabiazo, Tachina, San Mateo, Vuelta Larga, Chinca, Camarones in Esmeraldas canton, as well as in Quingüe and Daule de Muisne, Súa Atacames. Additionally, people have been reported to be affected in nearby provinces including Cotopaxi, Guayas, Imbabura, Los Ríos, Manabí, Pichincha, Santo Domingo de los Tsáchilas, and Tungurahua.

  • Humanitarian assistance donated by private companies (Nestle, Supermercados el Coral, Supermercados T.I.A, laboratorios Rocnarf), NGOs (Fondo Ecuatoriano Populorum Progression), and Foundations (Cecilia Rivadeneira) has been distributed by the SNGRE in different sectors as well as collective centers to affected families, including:

    • 2,924 food rations and snacks.

    • 160 personal hygiene kits.

    • 1,000 blankets.

    • 224 medicines.

    • 211 gallons of water.

    • 2 mattresses.

  • The Ministry of Public Health has engaged in actions involving:

    • Fumigation and delivery of tarps in the collective centre.

    • Health care and antigen tests for sheltered people.

    • Water quality monitoring and evaluation.

    • Epidemiological surveillance in the canton.

  • The Operations and Emergency Province Committee led by the Governor of Esmeraldas has been activated, assessing damage and coordinating response actions with key actors, The ERC was the only institution that collect the data of the affected people by the earthquake. This database was shared with all the actors involved. The governor directly asked the ERC to move portable toilets to one of the two emergency collective centres. As part of the National Decentralized Risk Management System, Technical Working Tables 2, 4, and 7 and all three working groups have been activated as well.