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Chile still reeling after February 27 earthquake

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Cristian Caro, Rev. Cristian Rautenberg, Juan Caro and Ms. Sara Catalán oberve a wrecked house in Chile. (

Life’s not getting much better for thousands of Chileans even though a month has passed since an 8.8-magnitude earthquake struck.

According to media reports, the February 27 quake killed about 800 people, destroyed 500,000 homes and left the country with a reconstruction bill of some $30 billion.

Coastal towns, like Constitución, which is located near the quake’s epicenter, are still in ruins.

“This event in Chile is far worse than ever imagined,” said Rev. Glenn Merritt, director of disaster response with The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod’s (LCMS) World Relief and Human Care (WR-HC), in a recent blog.

Merritt said he and Rev. Carlos Hernandez, also of LCMS’ WR-HC, arrived in Chile last week to work with the Confessional Lutheran Church of Chile (ILCC).
Constitución was hit hard, he added.

Just days ago, said Merritt, military divers were still searching for about 300 people who went missing after four tsunamis struck. One of the waves was nearly 10-metres tall.

In one government-run refugee camp, as many as 2,500 people are living in six-by-eight-foot wooden shacks.

“There is no water, no sanitation, no power, and not adequate food,” added Merritt of conditions in another camp.

Merritt said LCMS WR-HC and the Chilean church will look at setting up a feeding program and providing some electrical services in the camp.

But the disaster has stretched the resources of the ILCC, a church with fewer than 10 professional workers.

“It's an opportunity for the church to be present,” said Merritt, “but unless we have the resources to actually assist the people, it makes it very, very difficult.”

Already, LCMS donors have given $23,768.

Lutheran Church–Canada committed $10,000.

“Materials are readily available in Chile, what we don't have are the dollars to get the materials that are needed to assist these people,” said Merritt. “And right now the resources we have for responding to the earthquake in Chile are rather limited.”

To support the recovery efforts, go to, or send a cheque made out to Lutheran Church–Canada (Chile Relief) to 3074 Portage Ave, Winnipeg, MB R3K 0Y2.


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