We begin the month of May with an update on the airborne relief efforts that continue to pour in from around the world to help the victims of the April 16 Ecuadorian earthquake that has claimed more than 650 lives and injured nearly 28,000. Two weeks after the 7.8-magnitude temblor struck, critically needed shipments from the Airlink relief organization, the Quest Aircraft Co. and many other cargo carriers and humanitarian groups are beginning to pour into the region.
On April 29, Airlink – in partnership with American Logistics Aid Network (ALAN) and nonprofit relief group LIFT Non-Profit Logistics – coordinated its first delivery of aid to Quito, Ecuador’s capital, since the earthquake happened. The shipment of medical aid supplies was made possible through Airlink’s partnership with charter carrier Atlas Air (see photo above).
“Airlink would like to recognize Atlas Air’s generosity in providing free transportation for this shipment of life-saving medical supplies from Miami to Quito, and thank its long-time logistics partners, ALAN and LIFT, for their support in making this first shipment possible,” said Steven Smith, executive director of Airlink. “This is just the first in a number of shipments we’re coordinating with ALAN, LIFT and our nonprofit partners.”
The cargo shipment, put together by Christian relief and health organization MAP International, departed from Miami International Airport yesterday afternoon and arrived at Mariscal Sucre International Airport that same evening, carrying more than 6,200 pounds of humanitarian aid for earthquake victims. These supplies, valued at approximately US$1.4 million, include antibiotics and medicines to treat various health issues, such as diabetes and heart conditions. The shipment also included basic medical supplies.
Airlink – a rapid-response humanitarian relief organization that links pre-qualified nonprofits with partner airlines for passenger and cargo transportation – is currently working with more than 20 humanitarian aid organizations to support transportation of relief workers and material aid into Ecuador. In the last two weeks, through partnerships with Atlas Air, Avianca, JetBlue Airways, and United Airlines, Airlink has delivered more than $20,000 to its nonprofit partners.
Earlier this week, more shipments were made thanks to the use of rugged, single-engine aircraft that are able to land in stricken areas that are inaccessible by larger jet aircraft or by roads that have suffered quake damage. Built by the Idaho-based Quest Aircraft Co., the Kodiak aircraft has proven to be a versatile workhorse in transporting relief supplies into the region and airlifting critically injured patients out to receive intensive care in area hospitals.
In recent days, local humanitarian groups Samaritan’s Purse and Alas de Socorro del Ecuador (ADSE), a Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) affiliate, have used the propeller-driven Kodiak to transport four patients from the earthquake zone, including two children with severe head injuries (see photo at right). Materials such as sheets, blankets, non-perishable food and bottled water were also delivered by to affected areas in the city of Guayaquil, thanks to the Kodiak’s short take-off and landing capabilities.
According to David Montero, director of ADSE, many buildings and roads have collapsed on the western side of the country. The airport at Manta was very hard-hit and its air-traffic tower collapsed in the quake.
“The hardest hit town was Pedernales,” said Dan Whitehead, a pilot flying for ADSE. “We have heard from a reliable source that they fear more than 1,000 have died there. The communications with the small towns along the coast are patchy so we don’t yet know all that has happened.”
The priority right now is to move the first-response teams from Samaritan’s Purse into the area to assess the need to bring in larger aircraft and to set up remote medical facilities to help the injured, said John Woodberry, MAF’s disaster response manager. “Because roads and bridges were destroyed by the earthquake, ADSE flights will bring doctors, relief workers, medicine and other supplies to remote areas,” he said.
Approximately 20% of the worldwide Kodiak fleet is operated by humanitarian organizations, said Sam Hill, president and CEO of Quest Aircraft. The aluminum aircraft, he said, can take off in less than 1,000 feet at full gross takeoff weight of 7,255 pounds and climb at more than 1,300 feet per minute. For more information, please visit Quest’s website.
For more information on making donations to the ongoing Ecuador Earthquake relief effort, please visit these websites:
- Airlink: airlink.org
- Alas de Socorro del Ecuador: ads-ec.org
- American Logistics Aid Network: alanaid.org
- LIFT Non-Profit Logistics: gotlift.org
- Mission Aviation Fellowship: maf.org
- MAP International: map.org