When Gabi, her husband and her family set off for a weekend at the beach, they had no idea what lay in store. Lesly, her 12 year old daughter, and Matias, her 4 year old son, were very excited about the trip, as they had never been away for more than a day trip before. The school holidays were drawing to a close, and they were keen to have a little holiday before classes started again.
They arrived at the beach on Saturday morning, found a hotel, and set off for the sea. They loved swimming and playing in the sand. As dusk approached, they headed to their hotel room to get showered. They were all naked when the earthquake hit. In an instant the roof collapsed on top of the four of them. Gabi managed to throw herself on top of her son, but she could not hear anything. She screamed for Matias or Lesly to answer her, but she could hear no reply. Finally she heard a whisper from her four year old, "Don´t scream Mummy, God is with us." Then she heard Lesly calling out that she was under a pile of blocks. She was so thankful to know they were both alive.
Gabi´s mother, sisters and cousins managed to get out of the hotel. They came to find their relatives and struggled to pull them out from the rubble by hand. Gabi was the last to be pulled out into the open. They were hysterical, but not seriously injured. They made their way up on to a hill, along with many other people, to wait out the night. They said it was pitch black and none of them slept. It was the longest night of their lives. Across the hill they could see a family setting up a makeshift wake for a relative.
They said they saw just one fireman in the town, trying to help the more seriously injured. Many were crying for help, and everyone was just searching for the members of their families. There were also thieves already looting, stealing from the abandoned stalls by the seafront.
At daybreak, they set off to try to find a way home. They tried many different roads away from the coast, only to find they were impassable. Everywhere they went, they saw houses fallen to the ground, and people sleeping outside under mosquito nets. Eventually, 20 hours later (a journey that usually takes 4 hours), they reached home. There were long queues in the petrol stations and they ate nothing all day. They arrived at 1am.
They are pale and bruised, but remarkably unscathed. So many others were not so fortunate. Aid is reaching the main towns, but not yet the smaller villages. Police and military are having to escort aid trucks, as thieves have attacked some en route.
Project Ecuador will buy food, water, repellent etc. to send to the victims with any donations we receive for the earthquake victims, and take them to the offical collection points.
Please pray for those who are taking part in the rescue effort, and for those who have been left without loved ones and homes.