Caracas, April 18, 2016 (venezuelanalysis.com) – Venezuela became the first country to send humanitarian aid to Ecuador following a devastating 7.8 magnitude earthquake Saturday evening that has so far left 272 dead and 1500 injured.
On Sunday, President Maduro ordered the dispatch of two planes carrying food and a team of rescue experts to assist with the humanitarian response.
Created by former president Hugo Chávez, the Simon Bolivar Special Humanitarian Force has participated in 57 missions in Africa, Asia, and America, and includes firefighters, doctors, paramedics, as well as drone pilots.
The rescue team is set to work non-stop over the course of 72 hours, assisting in the localization and extraction of victims trapped in collapsed structures.
In an official statement, the Venezuelan government voiced its solidarity with Ecuador amid the natural disaster.
“Ecuador can count on the unconditional support, cooperation, and solidarity of Venezuela in this moment of affliction," reads the official communique.
As current president pro tempore of the Union of South American Nations (UNSASUR), Venezuela has assumed responsibility for coordinating the international aid effort to the Andean nation.
The Ecuadoran government of President Rafael Correa has declared a state of emergency in the six worst-hit provinces, as well as a nation-wide state of exception.
The earthquake is the strongest to have hit the country since 1979.