Earthquake in Chile
Santiago del Cile (Chile)
A magnitude 8.2 earthquake struck in the Pacific off the coast of northern Chile last April 2 which was followed the next day by at least ten strong aftershocks including one with a magnitude of 6.2 .
The United States Geological Survey (USGS) reported that the quake registered a depth of 20.1 kilometers and an epicenter at 95 kilometers northwest of Iquique, the capital of the region of Tarapaca and Chile's principal port for mining export. Some houses have collapsed, the airport was damaged, and six were confirmed dead. There is so much fear among the people. The major damage was recorded in Iquique and Alto Hospicio where our house, "Mary Help of Christians" was among those ravaged. The buildings rocked even in some areas of Peru and Bolivia. The Chilean President, Michelle Bachelet, declared a state of calamity in the northern regions of Arica and Parinacota Tarapacán (bordering Peru), the most affected by the earthquake.
Mother Angela Vallese founded our first communities in Chile. The FMA arrived in Santiago in 1893. Today, there are 22 communities present with schools, Oratory Youth Centers, catechesis in the parish and work with the migrants.
From the Province of "St. Gabriel the Archangel," Sr. Viviana Donoso, Provincial Secretary, wrote to tell us the news:
"In the north of Chile, the situation is very uncertain due to numerous and continuous aftershocks that follow one after the other in short time intervals although of lesser intensity. The people are fearful of the possibility of a tsunami especially those located in areas close to the sea. They prefer to live in tents or in open places which are safer. The media inform the possibility of a major quake because two-thirds of the tectonic plate has not yet unleashed the energy accumulated over many years. The people and the FMA community who live in the city of Iquique have growing fear because the epicenter of the earthquake is in the sea which can therefore trigger a tsunami.
The basic services were gradually restored, electricity and water, although still lacking in many areas. The roads are still impassable. The basic necessities like food and medicine begin to run out. The country is mobilizing relief operations with the help of generous citizens and through various religious and government institutions. The areas that have been badly hit are the municipalities of Alto Hospicio where there are about 2000 houses destroyed, and Iquique with a total of about 1000 houses damaged. The small villages have not yet been reached because of blocked roads but from an aerial view one can see that the damages are significant.
The hardest hit among our houses is "Mary Help of Christians" in Iquique where we have the basic education and secondary school. The sisters are all okay, no one was hurt, and they are one with the people during these moments of fear and insecurity. The sisters left the house and thanks to providence and goodness of a past pupil who gave them refuge in a house located in a safer area. The school building, according to preliminary surveys by the experts, has undergone significant structural damage and is not fit for habitation and therefore classes were suspended.
The Conference of the Religious of Chile is organizing aid and campaigns of solidarity to meet the basic needs of persons and communities and the Chilean government is doing likewise. "
The situation remains precarious. We will continue to update as soon as we receive news from the FMA in Chile. Let us intensify our solidarity with our sisters in Chile while we rely on the prayers and support of everyone.