Saturday, February 27, 2010

Latter-Day Saints React To Chile's 8.8 Earthquake; All Missionaries Safe, Angel Moroni Atop Santiago Temple Loses His Trumpet

Three stories published by the Deseret News on February 27th, 2010 chronicle reaction by members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, both in and out of Chile, to the 8.8 earthquake that rocked that country midway between Santiago and Concepcion. Church leaders in Salt Lake City and Chile are already working together to determine the appropriate humanitarian response to the earthquake. This will also include coordinating with government and other disaster relief organizations. The LDS Church has now published an official news release, which is already partially obsolete.

The latest story about the earthquake in general indicates that 214 people have been killed, 1.5 million houses have experienced some damage by the earthquake and 500,000 houses are severely damaged so as to be uninhabitable. The three-minute-long quake struck around 70 miles north from the southwest coastal city of Concepcion and around 200 miles south of Santiago. Read CNN timeline of critical events HERE. CBS gallery of 29 photos HERE.

In the first Deseret News story, LDS officials say eight of the church's nine Chilean mission presidents have checked in and are reporting that all missionaries in their respective districts are safe and accounted for. At press time, efforts were still being made to reach the Concepcion South Mission, which is closest to the epicenter, but a subsequent comment to the story by Howard Stevens indicates that Concepcion South missionaries are now safe and accounted for. In addition, LDS missionaries in Mendoza and Salta, Argentina are also safe and accounted for; because of their close proximity to the quake zone, those cities felt it strongly. The quake was even felt as far away as Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Local LDS Church leaders in the Concepcion area have reported considerable damage to the city, but they are unaware of any deaths to Latter-day Saints and indicate that all chapels appear to be just fine. No operational damage was reported to the Santiago Chile Temple, but the trumpet on the angel Moroni statue fell off.

The second story documents reports from ordinary Mormons in Chile. Gloria Auguita of Santiago reports waking up to the earth shaking around her. She awoke her son, Christhian Tomaduz, his wife Erika Villarreal, and their children, 3-year-old Lucas and 4-year-old Micaela, and they all huddled under a door frame of their Santiago home. Around them they heard furniture crashing to the floor and plates shattering. It was so loud and frightening that Micaela wet her pants. She said the whole earth was moving a lot, and they couldn't walk.

The building Tomaduz and his family live in survived, but Tomaduz said not all the surrounding buildings in Maipu, in the southwestern part of Santiago, were so lucky. Tomaduz's uncle lost his TV and fridge after the quake shook his 21st-floor apartment. Dirt houses collapsed, and bridges in Santiago are down.

Luisana Navarro, 25, was at a birthday party in Santiago with her boyfriend when the quake hit. She said that she's fine in Santiago, but is very concerned about her father in Rauco (a three-hour drive south of Santiago, closer to the epicenter), where everything is supposedly destroyed. Earthquake damage has made roads southward out of Santiago impassable.

In the third story, the Guerra-Jensen family in Santiago said many of the buildings in Santiago are earthquake proof. Most structures were still standing, although several sustained cracks and some standing facades had broken buildings behind them. Another Chilean, Romina Penailillo, reported that she was thrown from her bed to the floor from the intense shaking. She ran to a door frame, and watched her apartment collapse around her. The windows shattered, the walls fell down, and the floor of the house cracked open. She suffered a few cuts but was otherwise uninjured.

Additional LDS-oriented information published by the Milennial Star. As of December 2008, there were 554,749 Mormons in Chile spread out amongst 611 different congregations. The Santiago Temple is the only active temple, although a future temple for Concepcion was announced in October 2009.

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