Local Families Wait for Word from Relatives in Ecuador

The government in Ecuador raised the death toll in the wake of a massive weekend earthquake on the nation’s Pacific coast. As of Monday evening, 413 people were confirmed dead and at least 2,500 others had been injured, according to the government. The earthquake is having an emotional impact in Connecticut.

 At the Ecuadorian Consulate in New Haven, the flag of Ecuador was at half-staff as officials also confirmed that several Connecticut families have already lost love ones in the tragedy. Other local families are still waiting for any word from relatives in Ecuador at all.

 “We don’t know if they’re alive,” said Priscilla Esposito of Meriden. “We don’t know if they’re dead. We don’t know if they’re hurt.”

 Esposito and her sister Gina Bucchieri, also of Meriden, said they have already learned of relatives who were killed in the powerful 7.8 magnitude earthquake. They also said that there are several loved ones on their mother’s side of the family who they still had not been able to get in touch with.

 “She has nieces and nephews and we haven’t heard anything from them so those are our big concerns,” said Bucchieri.

 Learning that hundreds had been killed and thousands other injured, they said waiting for any information has been painful.

 “We just hope that somehow they’re just clinging on to life and that we’ll be able to get in touch with them or they’ll be able to get in touch with us,” Bucchieri said.

 Hope was the focus of the conversation at the Ecuadorian Consulate in New Haven on Monday night, even as officials confirmed that another local family, from Ansonia, had also learned that a relative had been killed.

 “With the help of God and all the national and international community, we will rise from this tragedy,” Raul Erazo, Ecuadorian Consulate General.

 Help from around the globe will soon be reaching the earthquake zone, and hopefully finding people who can still be saved. Some aid will be coming from Connecticut organizations, including AmeriCares, which expects it Emergency Response Team on the ground in Ecuador by Tuesday night.

 “We know there’s been tragedy already in the family,” said Esposito. “We’re just hoping that this isn’t going to be another tragedy.”

 Officials at the Consulate said with thousands of Ecuadorians currently residing in Connecticut, it is expected that more difficult news will be coming in the days ahead.

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