Ecuador: Latin America shows solidarity with quake victims

A Venezuelan rescue team as they prepare to board a plane to Ecuador to join rescue efforts after a huge earthquake, April 17. P

Cuba joined a long list of Latin American countries lending assistance to Ecuador on April 18 by deploying a team of 53 health and rescue specialists to treat victims wounded in the devastating 7.8 earthquake that struck the Andean nation April 16, TeleSUR English said. The quake has killed at least 350 people and injuring thousands more.

The most recent contribution from the Cuban government is in on top of the 600 medics already stationed throughout the country who provide permanent health services to Ecuadorean citizens.

Venezuela was the first nation to send aid, with aid now also coming from Bolivia, Mexico, El Salvador, Peru, Colombia and Chile. Venezuela Analysis said that on April 17, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the dispatch of two planes carrying food and a team of rescue experts to assist with the humanitarian response.

Created by former president Hugo Chavez, the Simon Bolivar Special Humanitarian Force has participated in 57 missions in Africa, Asia, and America, and includes firefighters, doctors, paramedics, as well as drone pilots.

The rescue team is set to work non-stop over the course of 72 hours, assisting in the localization and extraction of victims trapped in collapsed structures.

In an official statement, the Venezuelan government said: “Ecuador can count on the unconditional support, cooperation, and solidarity of Venezuela in this moment of affliction," reads the official communique.

As current president pro tempore of the Union of South American Nations (UNSASUR), Venezuela has assumed responsibility for coordinating the international aid effort to the Andean nation. The Ecuadoran government of President Rafael Correa has declared a state of emergency in the six worst-hit provinces, as well as a nation-wide state of exception.