Response to Earthquake in Chile

Week of Compassion continues to monitor the situation in Chile. We pray for those affected. We will post more information very soon with opportunities for you to donate. Please check our site and Facebook page soon.

UPDATE: 2/27/2010 02:19PM CST

SITUATION: A massive 8.8-magnitude earthquake hit central Chile early today, causing damage throughout the South American country and triggering tsunami warnings in the Pacific basin.

As of mid-afternoon today, the death toll stood at 122 in Chile though is expected to rise, The New York Times reported. Damage was particularly heavy in Concepción. That city,  Chile's second-largest metropolitan area, is located only 70 miles from the earthquake's epicenter.

The tsunami warning was issued throughout the Western Hemisphere, and in Hawaii, low-lying areas there are being evacuated.  The tsunami already reached Peru, with some coastline damage.

The Times reported that the Chilean quake is being called "vastly more powerful" than the 7.0-magnitude quake that caused massive destruction in Haiti last month.

Chilean President Michelle Bachelet declared a "state of catastrophe" in her country saying:  "We have had a huge earthquake -- We're doing everything we can with all the resources we have." The president said international assistance was not yet needed.

"Chile has a pretty strong national emergency management system in place and has dealt in the past with a number of catastrophic disasters," said Donna Derr, who coordinates emergency response for Church World Service.

Derr added: "While there are historic areas in the country which are certainly most extremely vulnerable in events such as earthquakes, most of the newer housing has been built to earthquake mitigation standards
which are now required there; there is also a strong regional system in place for provision of resources, such as search and rescue operational assistance between Chile and its neighbors."

RESPONSE: Church World Service has been in contact with local partners in Chile, including Fundación de Ayuda de las Iglesias Cristianas, known by the acronym FASIC, and the Methodist Church of Chile and with members of the ACT Alliance. ACT Alliance members active in Chile include the Lutheran World Federation and the regional organization Centro Regional Ecuménico de Asesoría y Servicio, known by the acronym CREAS. The partners in Chile are conducting assessments.

CWS staff have been in contact with the Hawaii Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster. CWS has long ties in Hawaii with the VOAD and with the United Church of Christ, a CWS-member denomination.

UPDATE: 2/27/2010 03:07PM CST


We just got news from the Bishop of the Pentecostal Church of Chile.  He has not heard of any deaths of church members.  There was some damage of homes in Curico and Talca, but homes weren't destroyed.  Elena Huegel, the missionary, was in the mountains at Centro Shalom with the whole staff.  Everyone is well and they are on their way down from the mountain.
Susan M. Sanders
United Church of Christ