This week, Airlink, the humanitarian organization that connects nonprofit groups with partner airlines for emergency relief services, has initiated response operations following the devastating 7.8-magnitude earthquake that struck the coast of Ecuador on Saturday evening. The death toll, as of today, has surpassed 400 people, with more than 2,500 injured, according to official estimates.
Airlink said it has so far assisted in the transportation of five personnel to the stricken Pacific Coast, including a Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) from All Hands Volunteers, and personnel from Waves for Water, who will provide access to clean water for the thousands of victims. United Airlines has also provided support via its United Charity Miles program, while AeroMexico, Avianca and JetBlue have also been active in the response, Airlink said.
Deutsche Post DHL Group has also sent a DART team to the region and is now providing free logistics assistance at Aeropuerto Internacional Eloy Alfaro in the coastal city of Manta, just south of the most hard-hit region. From Manta, the team of DHL volunteers is coordinating incoming international relief supplies and preparing them for further transport into the disaster-affected areas.
“After a natural disaster, rapid action is required in order to provide people with essential supplies,” said Gilberto Castro, head of the DART team for DHL Americas. “The quick and professional handling of incoming goods at airports plays a crucial role. ”
The Airlink organization said it anticipates that assessments from multiple other partners will find need for air cargo delivery this week. “This is a very serious disaster, and our partner humanitarian aid teams are assessing the total damage on the ground,” said Steven Smith, executive director of Airlink. “We are already beginning to receive requests, and anticipate to have a clearer picture of the long-term need as the teams are able to make reports from the affected areas.”
Airlink is currently accepting financial donations, as well as donated frequent flyer miles from United Airlines, to assist with the response. Other groups wishing to partner with Airlink to help the response are encouraged to call +1-202-480-9241.
Since its inception in 2010, Airlink’s airline partners have flown more than 3,700 passengers and transported approximately 2.5 million pounds of aid cargo. For more information, please visit airlinkflight.org.