We have received a variety of communications from Chile since yesterday and we are trying to condense the information in a form that will be helpful for a wide variety of people. Here is a selection of news received so far.
Letter from Presiding Bishop, Gregory Venables, to the dioceses of the Southern Cone (March 1st) translated from Spanish:
Buenos Aires,1 March 2010
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
We are writing to you let you know that we have been in touch with Bishop Tito in the Diocese of Chile office this morning.
The internet service and communications in general have been partially restored and working in the Diocesan office. Bishop Tito would like to assure you that both he and Bishop Abelino, the office and pastoral staff and their families are well. Their concern is that the only place they have not been able to make contact with so far is Concepcion, one of the most affected areas.
Currently Bishop Tito and his diocesan team are coordinating the work to make contact with each zone. The pastors are going out to visit each member of their communities and churches to evaluate the situation and check on any damage which has taken place. The road and air transport situation is very complicated, but they hope to be able to drive to Concepción in the next few days with relief and gifts to help in the area.
For the moment, meetings and retreats planned for the next few weeks have been postponed until transport can be re-established.
The bishop and the whole community are grateful for your the prayers and support. The main thing they need is calm, clarity and sensitivity as they make decisions in this emergency situation. We will be in touch with you when a clearer picture emerges over the next few days as to the specific needs of our brothers and sisters in Chile.
We will stay in touch with you.
Fraternal greetings in Christ
++Gregory Venables, Presiding Bishop, Province of the Southern Cone of America
The following are extracts from a resident in Viña del Mar, David Bamford (courtesy of Ray and Gill Smith) who describes some of the inconveniences of living with an earthquake that does no major damage:
Tremors are a regular facet of life in Chile and the procedure has become standard: stand in a door frame or under some kind of lintel or go outside, so when we felt the shaking in the early hours of Saturday morning, as they say in certain circles, ‘we were like,’ “Here we are, another tremor,” but the shaking went on, more violently that we had known, and it was evident that this was something serious. We grabbed dressing gowns and lurched down our swaying staircase to an accompaniment of the crash of falling objects and shattering glass. Out into the garden, still lurching. A few neighbours were out in the street. We joined them and stayed out there for a bit. It all went very quiet. Not a sound, and we eventually went back to bed. There were two aftershocks. The first had us starting again from a very fitful sleep. On the second, shortly after 7 a.m. we got up to survey the wreckage. Two shelves and a picture had fallen off a bookcase on the landing and there were books all over the floor. Downstairs, the sitting room floor was littered with CDs and sundry objects; glasses had fallen out of a corner cupboard, pictures were askew. In the kitchen, further breakages: storage jars, cafetières, etc., and a chip out of a floor tile where, we suppose, the biscuit jar had hit it.
Structurally, we got off lightly. The house was built in 2001/2 and is well-reinforced and very resistant to seismic activity. Cracked tiles in one of the bathrooms, plaster shaken out from where walls meet ceilings (next door, they had cornices shaken off, so we were lucky), a small chunk of masonry fell off the outside wall, where it meets the roof, but otherwise all was o.k. We were without electricity for about four hours, but the water supply was not affected. A good many people are still without water and electricity. Supermarkets are now out of water and people are selling it for vastly inflated prices. We are promised a suspension of the water supply on Wednesday, so that the systems can be checked. When we saw on television how badly it had hit Concepción and other parts of the south, we realized how lucky we had been.
Saturday was surreal, very quiet all day: people had been advised to stay at home unless obliged to go out. eventually we went out for a walk in the afternoon, down to the lake, as it was very boring staying at home watching the reports on television. We called into the local supermarket on our way home to buy wine (one has to think of the essentials!) and it was packed with people making small purchases: bread, water, etc., stuff that didn’t need cooking. Chileans, who are used to such things – many people remember two big earthquakes: 1960 and 1985 – must have an inbuilt siege mentality which kicks in on such occasions. Yesterday morning we went down to Church in Viña. St Peter’s Church, a wooden structure, suffered cracked stained glass windows, a fallen border moulding of one of them and other minor cracks and falls. The brick pillars of the perimeter wall were shaken loose, but otherwise, the building was o.k. Some of the older houses in Viña had plaster shaken off walls, revealing the timber frames with brick or adobe infill beneath, a restaurant, where we had had a meal on my birthday (5th Feb) had lost all the glass from its upper floor. As the whole wall was glass, this meant a considerable exposure. One high rise building, near where we used to live, had suffered buckling between its second and third floor. The second floor window frames were pushed down and the reinforcing rods bent and exposed. The building will obviously have to be demolished. No restaurants were open yesterday. It was strange being in Viña at lunchtime on a Sunday at the end of summer and finding all the usual busy places closed.
A letter received from Rosa Cortez from Concepcion who was in Santiago at the time of the Earthquake contains the following (thanks to USPG and Andy Bowman)
I am going to travel tomorrow with help from Santiago of non perishable food. Juan lost his café because the building is no longer habitable and he wasn’t able to take anything out of it. They are sleeping in tents at the Arruez’ house to save water and food… The bridges are down; only Llancolen bridge is open. Felipe and Claudia are with the Morrisons who have a well; which means they can share with the brethren from San Pedro…
There is no news from Alto BioBio and it’s unlikely for a while.
Pablo Zavala Latin Partner in La Serena, 1000 kms from Concepcion is fine and grateful for the prayers and concern of people throughout the world. This is true of a number of folk who have written from Chile.
Canon Alf Cooper writes from Temuco:
Down in Temuco area ministering to folk here. We were taken in by my family in their farms. All OK for now in the midst of unbelievable tragedy and pain.
Revd. Richard Pamplin from St Peter’s (English) Church in Vina del Mar wrote on Saturday:
It was very strong, but we are fine – only some personal possessions broken. Our building withstood it well. We are told we should be safe from the tsunami here. Some buildings around are damaged. There are a few deaths in our region. More damage further south.
From former Bishop of Chile, Colin Bazley and his wife, Barbara (on the SAMS Canada website) February 27/28, 2010:
February 28: “We are so grateful for your prayers and those of many people all over the world. It was the 7th strongest quake of all time since records began. It was terrible here but we were some distance from the epicentre. We went to Providencia church today and met people from Concepción who had come to Santiago before the earthquake and now can’t get back. One of them told me that her husband’s business premises had been razed to the ground and he was going to declare himself bankrupt tomorrow.”
February 27: ” It was truly a mind-boggling experience. We were shaken awake at 3.34 this a.m. and I got out of bed in our top 24th floor flat and ran to the room where our guests from Bebington were sleeping, As I ran along the corridor the first of the huge jerks occurred and threw me from wall to wall. I eventually got their door open and David came to the door where we both sank to the floor. We stayed there wedged as best we could, he against the bed and I against the door while the jerks continued.
“It seemed never-ending and while I was there, I remembered that this was our Golden Wedding Day and in between all the other succession of thoughts I smiled to myself! The noise was deafening with crashes and thumpings as things slid around, roofing banging continuously. The lurching of the building was as if the top of the building was like the end of a whip as it jerked from one side to the other.
“When the movement stopped I went back and found Barbara trying to get out. It was very hard as three pieces of furniture had fallen down flat, with books and other stuff all over the place, so she had to climb over the bed in the darkness. The electricity had cut out immediately. The mobile phone rang and it was daughter Katherine asking if we were OK. We managed to get some clothes on, and shoes as well because there was glass all over the place, Two bottles of wine broken with contents all over the kitchen floor.
“Then son-in-law Enrique arrived. It was dark as there was no electricity, nor water or gas either. He had climbed up the 24 floors to our flat as the lifts weren’t functioning, carrying torches and some anoraks. He led us down and outside into the patio where we all gathered with the Lagos and Enrique’s mother. We just sat there on some seats for a couple of hours and Fernanda plied us with bottled water. Then we were allowed back into (other daughter )
“Margaret’s flat on ground floor. Katherine and Rodrigo then arrived with flasks of tea. After a while it was decided we should go back with them. We spent the rest of the night and up to mid-morning there. Then David and I went back with grandson Francisco to collect some essentials – medication, clothing, etc. We were able to get into the one lift working up to our flat on the top (24th) floor, gathered stuff out of the total mess there and left it to be cleared up another day. We then went back to Katherine’s where we had a lovely comforting lunch.
“We had planned to have a celebratory meal tonight but in view of the devastation decided to put it off till later on. There is so much devastation up and down the country, 740 dead, many more injured. Most new buildings have held up as they are built with modern anti-seismic methods. Most of us felt it would be inappropriate, though some didn’t want to deprive people from earning much-needed cash at this time. But it was an 8.8 earthquake (more than Haití in fact) and there are1.5 million. homeless. The main Pan American highway motorway joining the major cities North to South has been broken in several places as bridges have collapsed. Here in Santiago the airport has been badly damaged. Concepción, 500 km South of here is a total mess. News is very jumbled at present. We’ll prepare a proper letter soon. But we are grateful to the Lord for his care and praying for those who have suffered far more than we have.
“It wasn’t the Golden Wedding we had planned. But to see the way our families here have pulled together, gave us and our visitors so much care and love, made it a real golden day for us. Sammy, Enrique and Margaret’s son, had very concerned communications with his girl-friend, Peggy, a Chilean Christian girl who is on a two-year contract at a Christian school in Taiwán, received a text message from her. She quoted Isaiah 54:10: “The mountains may disappear and the hills may come to an end, but my love will never disappear. My promise of peace will never come to an end”. My Psalm this morning was number 138, and verses 7 and 8; “Though I walk in the midst of danger, yet will you preserve my life…the Lord will complete his purpose for me. Your loving kindness, o Lord, endures for ever; do not forsake the work of your own hands”.
“We stayed at Katherine and Rodrigo’s overnight. It was a quiet night, with just a few small after-shocks that didn’t wake us. We look forward to going to the Providencia church this morning to worship with God’s people. We value your prayers more than we can say.”