Last week, thousands and thousands of people had their homes, towns, and families wrecked by a 7.8 magnitude earthquake. In Ecuador, this first tremor destroyed nearly everything along the coastline, even reaching the city of Quito which is over 100 miles inland. The hundreds of aftershocks - occuring throughout the weekend and even in to Monday afternoon - decimated the country even further.
By the latest count, 570 people have died and there are 7,000 more injured. There are still people missing. Aid groups have been hard at work, however, distribution of food, water, and other supplies is proving difficult, especially in rural areas. Some places are even more difficult to reach because the quake destroyed major roadways. Rainstorms had weakened mountainous areas and so the effects of the earthquake caused even worse damage than it would have without the effects of El Nino this year.
Ecuador wasn't the only place to be hit either. Two earthquakes, a 6.5 and 7, hit Japan on Thursday. These earthquakes follow what is called "The Ring of Fire" which encompasses major stretches of Pacific shoreline. These areas share similar fault-line structures and are prone to earthquakes.
If you want to help, consider donating to the Ecuadorian RedCross, OxFam, or UNICEF who are all working tirelessly to help the survivors. Remember that the process of giving aid and rebuilding entire communities and countries takes more than just a week, so as this story fizzles out of the mainstream media consider writing yourself a reminder to check in and make a commitment to donate again to a long-term relief effort team.