Ecuador earthquake: Derry nun among the dead

Sister Clare Crockett Image copyright Home of the Mother
Image caption Sister Clare was described as a "joyful" person

A 33-year-old nun from Londonderry has been killed in an earthquake in Ecuador.

Sister Clare Theresa Crockett, from the Long Tower area of the city, was based at a school in Playa Prieta with the Home of the Mother order.

More than 400 people were killed in the powerful earthquake which hit the south American country on Saturday.

Fr Roland Colhoun, who knew Sister Crockett, described her as "a beautiful person".

Image copyright Home of the Mother
Image caption Sister Clare taught guitar in the school

The Home of the Mother order confirmed to the BBC that six bodies were recovered from a school in the early hours of Monday morning.

Rescue teams were able to pull 36-year-old Sister Thérèse Ryan, originally from County Limerick, free from the rubble along with four others.

She is being treated for a fractured ankle and several bruises.

Sr Crockett and Sr Ryan had been teaching guitar and singing with five young women who were entering the religious order.

It is believed that they were running out of the building when the earthquake hit, leaving the women trapped on a stairway.

In a statement, Sr Crockett's 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."

Image copyright Home of the Mother
Image caption The five women were in school when the earthquake hit

Fr Colhoun was the young woman's spiritual director.

"The terrible news has devastated everyone in the last couple of hours," he told BBC Radio Foyle.

"This is a young girl who gave her life to God and died for the gospel.

"She was a joyful girl, I've known her since she was a teenager. A beautiful person.

"I'll remember the joy that she brought to her youth group and the enthusiasm she showed for her vocation to religious life.

"It's counter cultural to join a religious order for a young girl and she embraced it. We'll remember her with such affection."

Image copyright Home of the Mother
Image caption Sister Crockett (right) pictured with one of the postulants who also died in the earthquake

Sr Kristin Tenreiro, a close friend, said she would be remembered for her smile and her good work.

"When she was asked to work in Ecuador, she knew that there were dangers, but, despite that, she saw it as God's will.

"She gave herself to God and to the poor and the needy," she said.

"I will remember her with a huge smile on her face, singing, writing songs and I will remember her jokes.

"She was a very funny sister and wherever she was, the entire group was laughing."

In a statement, the Home of the Mother order said: "Sister Clare had spent nearly 15 years of her life in consecration to the Lord. She was a generous Sister with a special gift for reaching out to children and young people.

'Tragic and heavy loss'

"The postulants (Trainee nuns) had entered the Order just a year ago and were generously preparing themselves to become Servant Sisters. And the Lord found them all prepared."

Irish Foreign Affairs and Trade Minister Charlie Flanagan expressed his condolences to the family.

"On behalf of the government and people of Ireland, I also want to extend our sincere condolences to the people of Ecuador on the tragic and heavy loss of life from Saturday's devastating earthquake.

"Our thoughts are with the families of all those who were killed as they mourn their loss," he said.

Minister Flanagan said they would continue to liaise closely with the authorities in Ecuador.

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