Tuesday, March 2, 2010
LDS Church Begins Rendering Assistance To Chilean Quake Victims; Three Church Members Among The 723 Dead As Of March 1st
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced on March 1st, 2010 that it is now actively assisting in earthquake relief efforts in Chile after coordinating with the country’s Interior Ministry to determine how the Church can most appropriately assist in relief efforts. Church leaders have identified that food, water, tents, blankets, hygiene kits and sleeping mats are needed to assist people in the affected region.
As for the state of the Church in Chile as of this post, it is reported that of all the Church's meetinghouses, only five have been rendered unusable. At least three meetinghouses suffered extensive structural damage, and another was severely flooded. A house that also served as a meetinghouse was swept away in the tsunami triggered by the earthquake. The Santiago Temple was previously reported to be undamaged except for the loss of Moroni's trumpet, and construction had not yet begun on the proposed Concepcion Temple. The President of the Santiago Temple, Ted Lyon reported that they just had to close a few drawers and straighten a few crooked pictures.
As previously reported, all missionaries are safe and accounted for. Those unable to return to their apartments are either staying with members or in meetinghouses. Three members of the Church have been identified among the dead, out of an overall total of 723 fatalities reported by Chile's National Emergency Office as of this post.
In his letter published in the Milennial Star, Ted Lyon further reported that there was "lots of damage, virtually no stores open. Most parts of Santiago still have no electricity. Collapsed overpasses have closed major highways. The airport is closed because of damage, and planes have been rerouted to northern Chile or to Argentina." They lost power to the Temple for a while, but now they have it back; they were one of the first parts of Santiago to get electricity back on.
Other individual stories continue to filter out of Chile. Jason Allen of Sandy, Utah was attending an international music festival held annually in Vina Del Mar and was eating in his hotel when the earth gave way beneath him. He says he went two days without water and electricity in the midst of aftershocks ranging from 5.0 to 6.5 in magnitude. He also says he's tried to leave Chile, but the roads are torn in places and the bus companies have not been working. He called Delta and they said maybe he could fly out by Friday March 5th at the earliest.
Christopher Morgan of Salt Lake lives and works in Concepcion, which is 70 miles SSE of the epicenter of the 8.8 magnitude earthquake. He told Good Morning America that "It shook very violently for three to four minutes. All of my neighbors were running to the hills. The main destruction that there was was in the center part of Concepcion and buildings have toppled, entire houses were down and also there were bridges that had completely fallen."
Chile is no Third World dump like Haiti. It is considered the most advanced country in South America. Because of frequent earthquakes, they are experienced in dealing with them and with preparing for them before the fact.