CHICAGO (WLS) --At least 433 people are now confirmed dead after a massive earthquake struck Ecuador on Saturday.
For the first time, the defense ministry gave an estimate of the missing, putting that number at 231. President Obama called Ecuador's president to convey the condolences of the American people and to promise the U.S. will do all it can to help Ecuador recover.
As the death toll from Saturday's earthquake in Ecuador continues to rise, Ecuadorians living in the Chicago area are focusing on ways they can help those who need it most.
"My family from my husband's side is Ecuadorian," said Mariela Ortega. "I feel the pain."
It is estimated there are up to 80,000 Ecuadorians living in Illinois. Carlos House, the Consul General of Ecuador in Chicago, says that right now, their main priority is making sure their citizens can communicate with loved ones in the affected areas, while also coming up with an organized relief effort. Right now their strategy is two-fold.
"Monetary contributions through a bank account from the United Nations development program and also non-monetary contributions, meaning food, non-perishables, tents, lanterns," House said.
It was standing room only with a line outside the door as hundreds packed the Ecuadorian House in Chicago's Albany Park neighborhood Tuesday night to show support for Ecuador.
"We gathered in the spirits of solidarity in order to gather as much humanitarian aide as we can and to ship it as fast as we can," House said. "The response has been massive. Everyone is willing to help."
Ecuadorian business owners are also brainstorming how to help. Restaurant owners like La Humita's Nestor Correa are hoping to host an Ecuadorian cultural night, similar to one thrown last week when Ecuador's president was in Chicago, that would raise funds for those impacted by the earthquake.
"Most restaurants, we have musicians, we have people who work for us. We have been making calls to people working with us," Correa said.
Phone line for Ecuadorians in the U.S still looking for relatives: 1-844-668-4543