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HCJB Global Ministry Staff Safe Amid Chaotic Day in Ecuador

With live radio news coverage, emergency room care, and prayer during recent violence in Ecuador, HCJB Global was able to maintain its ministries in media and healthcare while safeguarding staff.

Police guard a TV station in Quito

This news was reported by the HCJB Global website (http://www.hcjb.org) in which they stated that media accounts claim that six died, including one policeman killed late Thursday, Sept. 30, when police exchanged gunfire with Army troops. Soldiers loyal to Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa rescued him from a Quito hospital where striking police were holding him.

“The confrontation culminated a day of tensions after police walked off their jobs in protest of legislation approved this week by Ecuador’s Constituent Assembly. The protesters denounced measures that would delay promotions and decrease benefits for police,” the story continued.

“The gun battle televised by a Quito network concluded as Army vehicles breached the police security and spirited away the president amid a barrage of gunfire. One policeman fell wounded as teargas filled the area. Within half a minute, others surrounded the downed man with riot shields, then carried him to an ambulance.”

HCJB Global went on to say that as the televised drama unfolded with shouting and bursts of gunfire, Teleamazonas journalists put the wounded at a dozen. On Saturday El Comercio newspaper put the number of wounded in both the street riots and the rescue at 193.

Correa had been hospitalized Thursday morning after being shoved around by protesting police officers and was nearly asphyxiated when a teargas canister was fired his way. Striking police at all levels, including Ecuador’s national police force, also blocked highways and shut down two international airports.

“With little enforcement, looting occurred in Guayaquil and Quito, and two bank robberies were reported in Quito. Streets in the capital appeared calm throughout the afternoon as businesses were shuttered and Quito residents stayed home,” said the HCJB Global report.

“That evening army troops surrounded the police hospital to extract Correa from its confines. The violent clash between rebel police and soldiers was followed shortly by televised images of the president speaking to supporters who had gathered at the presidential palace in central Quito.”

Radio Station HCJB offered listeners ongoing coverage, relating the events and praying with listeners for a peaceful resolution to the tensions. As the shooting was going on, Christian Zurita—lying prone with some 20 other journalists in the besieged hospital—called in reports. News Director Edwin Chamorro interspersed programming from the state-run Public Radio.

Work continues at this hospital despite the chaos in the streets

The story added that Hospital Vozandes, a short drive from the night’s conflict zone in north Quito, received 20 strike-related patients, including two combatants in the gun battle. The others suffered riot injuries or were assault victims.

Assembled earlier in the day by Graham Bulmer, director of HCJB Global’s Latin America Region, a crisis management team took steps to safeguard employees and filter communications.

People were directed to return home as staffs were reduced at the radio station and Hospital Vozandes-Quito (HVQ). Concerns about blocked streets and general insecurity notwithstanding, an HVQ evening shift change occurred without incident, said Jim Estes, who directs the hospital.

Near midnight, Correa continued to assess the situation and assure the country on televised talks. The country remains in a state of emergency. Even with classes canceled on Friday at Ecuadorian schools, traffic began flowing and airlines resumed flights.

Sources: HCJB Global, El Comercio, BBC, Voice of America

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