Mission No. #3212



Jun. 2022

Protests against the government of Ecuador resulted in hundreds of besieged travelers

hrs is the total duration of the rescue missions
israeli travelers rescued on this mission
local crew members dispatched across the country

As roads to safe areas became impassable, two groups of travelers were forced to seek shelter from an increasingly agitated local population. With food and water running low and the proximity of violence growing near, a request for immediate assistance was relayed to the MAGNUS Control Center. Rescue teams were immediately dispatched using the only viable method of transport—motorcycles.

The initial report

On June 13, 2022, a series of protests critical of the economic policies of President Guillermo Lasso were triggered by the sudden increase in the price of fuel and basic goods.
Public transportation workers, led by student and worker collectives, coordinated a response by blocking the major thoroughfares in key parts of the country.
Protests escalated as locals constructed physical barricades comprised of logs and boulders across primary and secondary roads. This resulted in the paralysis of transportation corridors vital to the maintenance of basic infrastructure, leaving major cities—including the capital, Quito—at a standstill.
Smaller cities in more remote areas were soon incapable of accessing critical health services, water, food, and other essential supplies.
By June 17, with tensions growing increasingly violent, a curfew was implemented, and a state of emergency was declared.

Israeli backpackers began to receive threats of violence with no viable mechanisms for standard transportation available.
Hundreds of emergency calls and requests for assistance were received from these travelers and directed to MAGNUS’s control room.

Most of the travelers were trapped in remote villages throughout the country, including areas deep within the Ecuadorian Amazon region and smaller coastal communities.
As fuel, food, and water supplies became scarce, travelers found themselves surrounded by angry mobs. In some areas, incidents of targeted violence against the backpackers were reported.

On June 15, MAGNUS Control Center initiated an operation to recover two groups of Israeli citizens:

group a

Situation: 3 travelers were confined to a gas station on Highway 487.
By the time of notification, they had slept 2 nights on a bus.

operational challenges

stages of the mission

  1. The Control Center activated the MAGNUS international network of contacts and directed Group A to move from the gas station to the nearby apartment of a local contact. Simultaneously, The Control Center coordinated a motorcycle-based rescue team.
  2. A group of 4 rescue motorcycles is dispatched from Quito. The rescue team was set to scan the route and roadblocks from Quito to the location of the travelers and report whether a rescue to Quito is possible (4-6 hr drive). At the same time, a fifth motorcyclist was sent to check evacuation options and the condition of the road from the town of Riobamba to the location of the group.
  3. After joining the group of travelers on the side of the road, an assessment of the evacuation options was made between the rescue teams and the Control Center regarding the condition of the roads and locations of the protests. The decision was made to evacuate the group to the capital Quito (8 hrs including the roadblocks).
  4. The rescue team made stops in the cities of Santa Domingo and Babahovo to conduct a renewed assessment of the situation. During the second assessment, it was decided to take advantage of the lighter pedestrian traffic and reduced checkpoints during night hours and complete movement to Quito.
  5. Group A arrives in Quito (after 9 hrs of driving and crossing checkpoints).

All group members are safe – End of Mission.

group b

Situation: 4 travelers were attacked while attempting to circumnavigate a checkpoint on a secondary dirt road in a remote area.

operational challenges

stages of the mission

  1. Following the announcement of the imposed curfew, the MAGNUS Control Center raised the level of urgency for the group’s evacuation.
  2. The Control Center dispatched a motorcycle-based rescue team to the travelers location and began coordinating a helicopter extraction from Rio Bamba.
  3. The motorcycle rescue team made successful contact with the group and began evacuation to Quito, bypassing checkpoints from Caja Bamba to Rio Bamba.
  4. The group is successfully transported to Rio Bamba and transferred to a car for passage to a helipad secured by the Ecuadorian Army.
  5. The helicopter makes an initial attempt to transport the group to Quito but is forced for return the initial pick-up point due to inclement weather.
  6. A second flight is successful in transporting the group from Rio Bamba to Quito.

All group members are safe – End of Mission.

During this series of protests in Ecuador in the month of June 2022, Magnus Search and Rescue managed the rescue of dozens of Israeli travelers. All the rescues were carried out in full cooperation with the Ecuadorian army, the local authorities, MAGNUS’s international network of contacts, and with the assistance of the Israeli Embassy in Ecuador.



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The rescue team


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