A group of Maine students is home safe from a trip to Ecuador, where they survived an earthquake that has killed more than 500 people and injured more than 4,000.
Eight students and two teachers from the Greater Portland Christian School were on a mission trip to Ecuador when the 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck over the weekend.
"It just started shaking, and we hear kids scream 'get outside, get outside,'" said student Natalie Smith.
None of the students or staff members from GPCS were injured, but they said they witnessed disturbing damage in the hours after the earthquake.
"There was an apartment building four stories high, all in rubble, and dead people in it," said Smith. "It was scary."
The students said a family they were working with during their mission trip lost their home in the earthquake, so they decided to pool their money together and donate it to them.
It took a few hours, but they were able to make quick phone calls home to reassure their parents that they were OK.
"I cried, it was so good to hear his voice," said Debbie Powers, remembering when her son, Jeremy, called home.
They had to wait several more days to see them in person. Wednesday morning, the school group caught back to Boston Logan Airport, and a group of family members were there to cheer and hug them when they arrived.
"They were so protected, and I feel so blessed," said Powers. "I'm just trying not to cry."
There is another school group from Maine still in Ecuador. Lake Region High School in Maine has several students in the country for spring break. A parent confirmed to necn that all the students and staff from Lake Region are safe, and are scheduled to fly home on Monday.