Ministerio de Defensa de España


On April 16, 2016, Ecuador suffered one of the most devastating earthquakes in its history. A seismic movement of 7.8 degrees, which epicenter was identified near Pedernales, seriously affected different municipalities of the provinces of Esmeraldas and Manabí.

Due to the seriousness of the situation, different international search and rescue teams, mainly Latin America were deployed in the area during the 24 hours after the earthquake.

On Sunday afternoon, 17 April, the Spanish Government mobilized the Emergency Military Unit and the Immediate Response Team of the Madrid Community (ERICAM), the only two Spanish teams classified by INSARAG, the International Search and Rescue Advisory Group.

On Monday morning, April 18, 45 soldiers from UME and 12 firefighters from ERICAM, took off from the Torrejón Air Base as a single team, the " Ecuador Tactical Group". Their main capacity was the Search and Rescue, including six dogs for the cynological search, four specialized in alive victims and two in corpses, as well as telescopic cameras, geophones and drones for the technical search.

Once in Ecuador, and following guidelines of the UN, the Spanish Group was deployed in Canoa, one of the towns most affected by the earthquake and its subsequent aftershock on 17th. In this place, the UME collaborated with the local teams in the search and extraction of corpses under the rubble using specialized cutting and drilling tools.

That same night, the Spanish team traveled to Manta, specifically to the neighborhood of Tarqui, where, for two days, they carried out the recognition of a large area to either confirm or rule out the presence of bodies under the rubble, as well as the buildings conditions. This allowed passing to the rubble removal phase with heavy machinery by the local teams.

Once completed the search and rescue phase, the Spanish group moved to the town of Chone, 90 kilometers from Manta. Even the region reference hospital located in this place suffered severe damages in its structure; luckily, it did not affect the medical equipment stored there. For this reason, at the request of the Ecuador´s authorities, the Spanish team evaluated the building’s condition and delimited the safe areas.

UME and ERICAM collaborated with the Ecuadorian military forces during the material recovery activities. A total of 105 pieces of great significance were recovered, among which, there were X-rays technical resources, servo-control incubators incubators, electrocardiograms, hospital electric beds, etc. Although the material value exceeded $ 1,200,000, the main objective was to attend to the eight hundred patients that daily depended on the hospital at that time.

The next day, the USAR teams from Spain had to put into practice another of their capabilities, that of the protection of Cultural Interest Assets, specifically in the archaeological Museum of the municipality of Bahía de Caraquez.

For two days, the Ecuador Tactical Group secured the building by propping up and cleaning up unsafe areas, in order to prevent the damage of these great historical works and objects as result of future aftershocks.

After completing the missions in the province of Manabí, the Spanish contingent moved to Quito, where the National Emergency Monitoring Center is located. Then group remained in this center at the request of the Ecuadorian authorities in order to react quickly to any future contingency.

Finally, on Friday the 29th, a plane from the 45th Spanish Air Force Group moved the UME and ERICAM members to Spain, arriving on Saturday, April 30. Upon arrival, they were received by the Commander of UME, General Director of Civil Protection and Emergencies and by Director of Citizen Security of the Community of Madrid.

This is the fourth time UME has been engaged after an earthquake occurred; one in Lorca (Spain) and three abroad: Haïti, Nepal and Ecuador.





Operación "Ecuador 2016"

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