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Irish nun killed in Ecuador earthquake

Sister Clare Theresa Crockett
Sister Clare Theresa Crockett

A young Irish nun described as a superstar by her family has been killed in the earthquake in Ecuador.

Sister Clare Theresa Crockett, 33, died when a stairwell collapsed in the school she was working at in Playa Prieta.

More than 200 people were killed in the powerful earthquake which hit the south American country on Saturday.

Sister Clare, from Derry city, was a nun in the Home of the Mother order and had been teaching children in a rural part of the country, including how to play the guitar.

Her family paid a glowing tribute to her.

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

More than 260 people died and 2,500 others were injured in the powerful quake, which measured 7.8 on the Richter scale - the strongest to hit the country since 1979.

The US Geological Survey said the shallow quake that hit on Saturday evening was centred 16 miles (26km) from Muisne in a sparsely populated area of fishing ports popular with tourists.

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

Homes, buildings and roads have been reduced to rubble - with more than 70% of the town of Pedernales, a town of 40,000, destroyed.

Sister Clare died along with a number of local girls in the school.

Her family said: "On Sunday 17th April, we lost our daughter, sister and aunt Sister Clare Theresa Crockett as a result of the earthquake in Ecuador.

"She was situated in a school in Playa Prieta with the Home of the Mother order. At this difficult time we would ask for privacy."