April 18, 2016 - 10:38 AM
MONTREAL - Two members of a Quebec family were among those killed during a massive earthquake in Ecuador on the weekend, a relative confirmed Monday.
Guy Laflamme told Montreal radio station 98.5 FM his nephew's wife, Jennifer Mawn, and their son, Arthur Laflamme, were among the 350 reported dead after the roof of a residence collapsed on them.
Laflamme said his nephew, Pascal Laflamme, and his family had moved to Ecuador not too long ago and that they liked travelling and working abroad.
He said Pascal had been chatting on FaceTime with his father Real, who was in Quebec, when the earthquake hit Saturday night.
"Everything was going well and from one moment to the next, everything started to shake, to vibrate," Laflamme said. "Pascal shouted, 'get out! get out!' and all communication was cut off."
The uncle said Pascal managed to get in touch later to confirm the deaths. Word of his son's death was sent by text first and a few hours after that, Pascal Laflamme managed to reach his father to also relate Mawn's death.
Guy Laflamme said Pascal also mentioned he and his daughter, Laurie-Ann, were slightly injured but OK.
"They went to the hospital but there were a lot of people extremely injured so they went to stay with friends," he said.
The family often blogged about their travels — they lived on Reunion Island between 2007 and 2010, returned briefly to Canada and then headed to Mauritius before moving to Ecuador.
Pascal Laflamme noted in one post the family had moved last September to the coastal town of Bahia de Caraquez.
"We just love it here, weather is great and living by the Pacific Ocean is a real joy!," he wrote.
Mawn was a neuropsychiatrist who founded a clinic working with children and teens in Longueuil, south of Montreal.
A work colleague, Hugo Laprise, said Mawn kept tabs on the clinic despite being abroad and checked in several times a week.
Laprise said staff are in shock and that Mawn will be dearly missed.
"She was a very nice person, I'm really shocked," Laprise said. "She was a very positive person, she was a very nice person, she was very honest, professional and was always trying to look for the best interest of everybody."
The 7.8-magnitude earthquake is the strongest to hit Ecuador since 1979, levelling buildings and buckling highways along the Pacific Coast of the South American country.
It was centred about 170 kilometres northwest of the capital, Quito.
Global Affairs Canada has asked friends and relatives of those known to be travelling in Ecuador to contact its emergency response centre.
Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said Canada will respond right away to any request for aid.
"These human tragedies are so, so compelling and the world needs to come together to make sure that every resource, every bit of assistance and support, is made available," Goodale said in Ottawa.
"We will respond to any request with great diligence...Obviously this is an emergency, so we would respond immediately."
News from © The Canadian Press, 2016