LDS Missionaries Safe, Accounted For In Ecuador Earthquake Zone; Death Toll 350, Likely To Rise

Ecuador earthquake
The International Red Cross is sending hundreds of volunteers to Ecuador to assist with recovery following a powerful earthquake that hit the Latin American country early Saturday evening. Photo from International Federation of Red Cross/Twitter.

ECUADOR, April 17, 2016 (Gephardt Daily) — The hundreds of LDS missionaries serving in Ecuador are safe after a magnitude 7.8 earthquake Saturday night that killed at least 246 people, a church spokeswoman said Sunday.

“We are grateful to report that all of our missionaries in the region have been contacted and are safe,” said Kristen Howey, who served an LDS mission in Ecuador.

Howey said church leaders are still collecting information about the damage caused by the earthquake, which is the country’s worst in more than 35 years.

According to government reports, the current death toll is 350, and more than 2,600 were injured. The numbers are expected to rise. Search and rescue operations were ongoing as through the weekend.

According to information on Mormonnewsroom.org, Ecuador has an LDS Church membership  234,606, divided into 307 congregations. The country has five missions and one temple.

The earthquake hit at 6:58 p.m. Saturday in the northern town of Muisne, BBC reported, leaving severe and widespread damage in its wake, including a collapsed bridge in Guayaquil about 190 miles away.

The Geophysical Institute in Ecuador reported the quake’s epicenter was in the coastal province of Esmeraldas.

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