British charity workers are hoping to reach families left stricken in remote areas following Ecuador's strongest earthquake in nearly four decades.

A team from the Cornwall-based disaster relief charity ShelterBox has been sent to South America to help the international aid effort as the country reels from the 7.8-magnitude quake.

A young Irish nun, Sister Clare Theresa Crockett, 33, was among at least 350 people killed in the disaster so far.

The US Geological Survey said the shallow quake on Saturday was the strongest to hit the country since 1979.

Two members of the ShelterBox team, Briton Jonathan Berg and American Katherine Lapso, will travel to Ecuador on Wednesday and meet with other international organisations to coordinate how to provide those affected with shelter.

Charity spokesman Mark Nicholson said it will then be decided how many charity workers and volunteers will be sent to distribute ShelterBox's aid kits, which includes tents, kitchen equipment and mosquito nets.

He said reaching those outside major urban areas would be crucial, with the epicentre 16 miles (26km) from the nortwestern town of Muisne in a sparsely populated area of fishing ports popular with tourists.

"Our aid package is literally a package - everything a family might need to survive after a natural event, we put it in a durable and portable green box," Mr Nicholson said.

"Reaching rural areas can be challenging but we push to reach the rural areas because our aid is so portable.

"This is over a wide area and even the capital Quito took a major shock - we just don't know the extent of it in rural areas because the government has not reached them yet."

Landslides and aftershocks, of which there have been 135 so far, could also hamper the relief effort, Mr Nicholson said, adding the charity's volunteers would face tough conditions.

He said: "That would be a concern if that's still happening - it is natural human instinct to get out in the open.

"They will have to grit their teeth, it can be quite upsetting and the structural damage is quite significant. They are trained professionals, many are volunteers but they have trained vigorously."

Mr Nicholson said it was too early to tell how many people had been displaced by the disaster and how many shelter boxes, stored in the charity's hub in Panama, would be needed.

The charity, which was established in 2000, has previously responded to natural disasters in Fiji, Nepal and Haiti, where according to Mr Nicholson, families were living in ShelterBox tents years after the event.