BREAKING: Major Ecuadorian earthquake strikes near students on service trip

Matthew Ross

Updated 4/20/16: The students returned safely from Panama on Tuesday evening. See images below.

A group of Redwood students and teachers on a service trip in Ecuador emerged unharmed after a devastating earthquake late Saturday night.

The 7.8-magnitude quake struck the coast of northern Ecuador. The group, whose trip was associated with Global Student Embassy, was able to fly out of Ecuador on Sunday. The students arrived home on Tuesday.

Screen Shot 2016-04-17 at 8.03.19 PM
The 7.8-magnitude earthquake was the country’s biggest since 1979.

English teacher Cathy Marsh and social studies teacher Stephen Hart accompanied the 22 students as chaperones. Hart was available for comment via text message Saturday night.

He described the quake as “pretty terrifying,” as the group could feel the hostel shifting from side to side as the power went out. Thankfully, the students had already gathered their belongings—they were scheduled to depart for the airport only a few hours later.

The chaperones decided to leave to the airport soon after the quake so that the group could drive inland, as a tsunami warning had been issued for the coast.

Hart said that, en route to the airport, the group was forced to take a detour because of a landslide.

He mentioned that the group had left a town “quite close to the epicenter” just a couple days earlier.

The quake was the strongest to hit Ecuador—a country prone to earthquakes—since 1979.