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Ecuador earthquake: Irish nun Sister Clare Crockett died trying to help others escape

The 33-year-old is one of at least 350 people killed in the 7.8-magnitude quake

Caroline Mortimer
Tuesday 19 April 2016 00:55 BST
Sister Clare Crockett was ushering others to safety when she died
Sister Clare Crockett was ushering others to safety when she died (PA)

A young nun who died in the Ecuador earthquake while trying to guide others to safety has been described as a “superstar” by her family.

Sister Clare Crockett died along with five others after a stairwell collapsed in the school where she worked in Playa Prieta in the western province of Manabi.

At least 413 people are believed to have died in the 7.8 magnitude quake which struck 27km (16.8 miles) from the town of Muisne on the southeastern coast.

The 33-year-old’s order, the Servant Sisters of the Home of the Mother, said she was killed along with five Ecuadorian postulants - women who are in the early stages of becoming a nun - when the quake struck.

Four nuns had been in one of the school buildings, where they lived on the third floor, when the quake hit.

Another Irish nun Sr Therese Ryan, 36, was the first pulled free with a fractured ankle and several bruises. Two others were rescued, Sr Estela Morales, 40, the superior from Spain and Sr Merly Alcybar, 34, from Ecuador, who survived a wall falling on her.

The five dead postulants were named by the Order as Jazmina, Mayra, Maria Augusta, Valeria and Catalina.

Sr Clare, from the Brandywell area of Londonderry in Northern Ireland, taught music to 400 children at the Colegio Sagrada Familia school.

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Her cousin, Emmet Doyle, said: "She was a superstar. Everybody loved her.

"She was the last sister found. She was trying to get them down the stairs and the staircase collapsed. We knew she was trapped but information has been slow to come out.

"She died as she lived, helping others."

Speaking to Irish broadcaster, RTÉ, Fr Roland Colhoun said he had known Sr Clare since her teenage years in Derry and described her as a beautiful person.

He said: "She loved god and she died in the line of duty. It's a very sad end to her fruitful life".

Northern Ireland's First and Deputy First Ministers Arlene Foster and Martin McGuinness offered sympathies.

Mr McGuiness said: "Sr Clare devoted her life to children and young people and died selflessly helping those in need in Ecuador.

"Her death has shocked and saddened the entire community in Derry and further afield."

A state of emergency has been declared in six of Ecuador’s 24 provinces - with 10,000 armed forces and 4,600 national sent to the affected towns near the epicentre.

Additional reporting by AP

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