03 March 2010

Update on earthquake from Columban superior in Chile

The Regional Director of the Columbans in Chile, Fr Derry Healy, sent this message on Sunday (early Monday morning Philippine time):

We are all well and alive, just the shock of the whole experience. All the Columban group are safe and haven´t suffered major damages. Most of the contents of the houses were turned over with the shake. I was not long in bed and was woken up to what I thought was someone trying to break in, as the woodwork creaked and the front door vibrated. Soon I felt the whole house shaking and I just got up and ran for it to the street. Our house is wooden and on stilts on the edge of a ravine.

I felt like it was never going to end. Many of us spent the rest of the night on the street with the people. Here in Valparaiso, we gathered the people around, clear of building and electric wires and got a fire going and made a 40-litre pot of tea. Luckily, we has a supply of cups in the Ecological Centre.

I managed to contact all the Columbans (lay missionaries, Associates, Sisters and priests) by yesterday (Monday) afternoon. Mobile phones were the first to get back the signal. The Central House in Santiago has suffered minor damages. Also some of our churches showed some cracks, but nothing major. Communications, water and electricity are being gradually restored. Since the last major earthquake on March 3rd 1985, strict anti-seismic building regulations have been put in place in Chile and this has prevented a major disaster. This earthquake was much stronger than any experienced in recent years.

Yesterday, Saturday, was like a 'Holy Saturday' just contemplating suffering and vulnerability and in a limbo situation. Today, Sunday, the gospel of the the Tranfiguration gives us new hope and wonder and while the little Christian community would like to stay on Mount Tabor, they are now challenged to become involved in the wider community and keep hope alive amid so much disaster. Today there has been movement here and people are trying to get back to normal. There are still some tremors as I write this. People around here are still on the street and won´t go back into their apartments yet.

No comments: