A young Irish nun was among nearly 300 people killed in the 7.8 magnitude earthquake that struck Ecuador on April 17.

Sister Clare Theresa Crockett, 33, and originally from the Brandywell in Co. Derry, was teaching guitar in an Ecuadorian school when the earthquake hit.

Survived by her parents and two sisters, Sister Clare had been involved in the religious life since she was 18 and had lived in the United States and Spain before moving to Ecuador.

“On Sunday, April 17, we lost our daughter, sister and aunt Sister Clare Theresa Crockett as a result of the earthquake in Ecuador,” her family said on Monday.

“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.”

Another family member spoke to the Irish Times, describing Sister Clare as the “superstar of the family.”

“We heard that she was teaching guitar in the school when the building collapsed due to the earthquake. We were told she was trying to get people out of the school when it collapsed,” he said.

Her spiritual director, Derry priest Fr. Roland Colhoun, described the young Irish woman as a “beautiful person.”

“She was a joyful girl. I’ve known her since she was a teenager. A beautiful person,” he said.

“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 countercultural to join a religious order for a young girl and she embraced it. We’ll remember her with such affection.”

The Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan also conveyed his condolences on Sr Crockett's tragic death.

“The tributes paid to Sister Crockett since the weekend are a testament to the difference she made to the lives of the community she served,” Minister Flanagan said.

“My Department is providing consular assistance to her 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.

“Officials from my Department continue to liaise closely with the authorities in Ecuador in the aftermath of the earthquake."

At least 272 people died as a result of the 7.8 magnitude earthquake that struck Ecuador on Saturday evening, the most devastating quake to hit the country in 40 years. Thousands more were injured with many still trapped in the rubble.

A state of emergency has been declared in the country as rescue attempts continue.