The editor of the CM Province’s Facebook Page writes, “Let’s try to summarize what happened in Chile, as a result of an earthquake of 8.8 on the Richter scale and the subsequent tsunamis produced in several places.
The earthquake affected the regions from Valparaiso to the Araucanía, the most affected being Maule (where the epicenter was located) and Biobío. This covers an area approximately 800 kilometers from north to south.
Until 2:30 PM today (02/28), the death toll is 708, but as the President of the Republic recognized, this number will continue to rise. Only in Constitución (in the Maule region), reported more than 300 victims, mostly due to the tsunami that occurred there.
Communications at this moment are very difficult: fixed and cellular phone lines are jammed or simply interrupted; the roads are cut in some places or disrupted; there are bridges destroyed, damaged tunnels. The President herself had difficulty communicating with the regional heads of Maule and Biobío. The Santiago airport recently commenced operations these last hours, but only to receive flights from abroad, but without departures yet.
Because of these same communications difficulties, there are many people that haven’t found out the fate of their relatives. There are collapsed buildings, where presumably new victims will be found.
Neither the hospitals or jails have been spared the consequences of the earthquake. There are patients in hospitals located in the countyside, and a prison where some 200 prisoners managed to escape, but were subsequently recaptured.
Need and the lack of scruples of some people has led to some looting at supermarkets. Due to this, the government has decreed a state of constitutional emergency in Biobío and Maule, where they have even established a curfew for tonight.
There are difficulties in channeling aid, due to the extent of the affected zone and because the difficulty in communications makes when every moment the assessment of the tragedy changes.
Regarding the situation of our Vincentian Family, we really only have information of the Daughters of Charity and the (Vincentian) Missionaries. In general, Missionaries and Sisters are well. For long hours we could not communicate with the Sisters of Los Angeles, Talcahuano and Tomé, in the region of BioBío and the Fathers in Collipulli in the region of Araucanía. Fortunately, we managed to establish such communication and they are fine. The only dangerous situations occurred in Talcahuano, where 2 sisters and 40 children were evacuated the Miraculous Medal Home, endangered by a tsunami, and in Tomé where the waves reached the Marguerite Nasseau School, but apparently without serious damage.
The relatives of the Sisters and Fathers are generally good, although there are some sisters who are without news of their families. A sister of a Daughter of Charity was rescued unhurt from the rubble of her completely destroyed house.
As for material damage to houses of the Sisters and Missionaries, we can report that there is some damage in the Provincial House of the Sisters, especially in the older sisters’ section. In the “Casa Central” of the Missionaries are yet-to-be assessed damages in the Church. Also, the Church St. Vincent de Valparaíso shows damage yet to be assessed, but we have been advised to stay closed on Sunday and celebrate Masses in other units. The St. Justin de Jacobis House of Formation also has cracks that apparently are not serious, but will have to be examined well.
Of the other branches of the Vincentian Family have not obtained information. We are worried about the JMV youth in Tomé, with whom we have failed to establish communications.
We are asking Missionaries and Sisters for more information, especially on the situation of the population with which they live, so the necessary assistance can be organized.
Tags: CM, Congregation of the Mission, Daughters of Charity, Disasters, Vincentian Family
photos of the area: http://www.boston.com/bigpicture/2010/02/earthquake_in_chile.html#photo19