PEDERNALES, Ecuador – Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo on Friday called for rapid aid for the reconstruction of areas devastated by Ecuador’s April 16 earthquake, which he considered essential to get local residents’ lives “back to normal.”
Garcia-Margallo on Friday visited Pedernales, one of the towns hardest hit by the quake that slammed the Andean nation in April, leaving 660 people dead and almost 29,000 homeless.
“It’s heartbreaking,” the minister said about the destruction he saw. “They lost homes, they lost schools and medical centers and they lost the businesses that supported those families,” while many had not insured the goods they lost, he told reporters.
Garcia-Margallo said that after the aid provided by Spain in the first stage of the emergency, it is the reconstruction that must now be tackled: “We have to help everyone as fast as we can” in order to “restore hope as soon as possible” to stricken population.
The town of Pedernales in Manabi province is one of the urbanizations most devastated by the magnitude-7.8 temblor.
In that town 166 people died, while some 2,500 homes were reduced to rubble. The earthquake left standing only 13 of the town’s 35 buildings and even those were severely damaged, according to town officials.
The Spanish foreign minister could also appreciate the damage done to the shrimp harvesting and tourism industries, pillars of the local economy.
Garcia-Margallo met later with representatives of non-governmental organizations, before moving on to Manta, 200 kilometers (125 miles) south of Pedernales, to make a tour of the Tarqui sector, also devastated by the seismic movement, with which he will end his stay in Ecuador.