herald

Monday 26 September 2016

'We're devastated over Sr Clare death' - family of quake survivor nun

Sr Therese Ryan suffered a broken ankle in the quake
Sr Therese Ryan suffered a broken ankle in the quake

The family of an Irish nun injured in the Ecuador earthquake have said they are relieved she survived but devastated that another Irish member of her order died.

Sr Therese Ryan (36), who was born in Limerick but grew up in Monaghan town, has been discharged from hospital after breaking her ankle in the weekend quake.

Her friend, Sister Clare Crockett (33) from Derry city, was killed.

The Department of Foreign Affairs has been liaising with the Ecuadorian authorities on behalf of Sr Clare's family.

"We were overjoyed to hear Therese had survived," said her sister, Patricia, "but it was also a feeling of devastation at the loss of Sr Clare and the five other nuns who died.

"I met Sr Clare a few times and she was the most wonderful person. Her death is shocking for the order and for her family."

Sister Therese joined the Order 16 years ago.

"She has been in Ecuador for the past five years and loves her work there," said Patricia, one of a family of six.

"We keep in touch by phone and email, but we haven't met since she went out there.

"As a family we are relieved for Therese. We haven't been able to speak to her yet, but we've been in constant contact with the order in Spain. They have assured us that she is well and that she was able to leave hospital on Sunday. She is being taken care of.

"We are hoping to talk to her over the next few days, but there's no way of reaching her at the moment."

Patricia said Sr Therese and the other nuns were involved in "wonderful work" in Ecuador.

Rebuild

"From what we've seen, it looks like the earthquake has caused an enormous amount of damage, but hopefully they can rebuild and move on. It's such a shock for all of them."

Sr Therese, Sr Clare and the five Ecuadorian nuns were on the third floor of a four-storey school building in Playa Prieta in the province of Manabi when the 7.8 magnitude quake struck on Saturday night.

Five postulates, or trainee nuns, also died when the building collapsed.

The were named by their Home of the Mother Order as Sisters Jazmina, Mayra, Maria Augusta, Valeria and Catalina.

Two other nuns were rescued, Sr Estela Morales (40), the superior from Spain, and Sr Merly Alcybar (34), from Ecuador, who survived a wall falling on her.

Sr Theresa, the head of the Order based in Cantabria in northern Spain, told the Herald: "Everyone is still in shock at what happened and are recovering from their ordeal."

The order has been liaising with the families of the dead and injured.

The nuns had been working in the school, but had also been carrying out "significant humanitarian work" in the area following recent floods that had already caused huge devastation.

There were no students in the school at the time of the quake.

Nuns at another school in Guayaquil organised lay members to help transfer the surviving nuns to their school.

The earthquake has left at least 415 people dead and caused billions of dollars worth of damage in western Ecuador.

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