Caritas mobilises aid for Chile quake survivors
01 March 2010
Caritas in Chile is mobilising to help survivors after a massive earthquake struck Saturday near the second largest city, Concepción. The quake measured 8.8. It has killed hundreds and devastated large parts of the country leaving two million people affected.
A destroyed building after a huge magnitude-8.8 earthquake struck Chile early on Saturday, killing at least 700 people.
Bishop Alejandro Goic, President of the Chilean Episcopal Conference, said that parishes and local Caritas centres have been put into action to help affected people. The first emergency aid is being distributed in Maule and Bío Bío, the worst affected regions.
Caritas Chile Director Lorenzo Figueroa said, “Caritas Chile is working in coordination with governmental and civil society organisations in establishing a national help network in spite of enormous communications difficulties.
“We are collecting food to be sent immediately to communities which have been most affected by the earthquake and where shortages are already being reported. Our own communications network and capacity to offer warehouses and points of collection and distribution are immediately available.
“The magnitude and depth of the catastrophe which has affected the poorest regions of the country will require the support of Caritas members in Latin America and worldwide. Above all, hope is needed among our suffering people.”
Meanwhile, a Caritas emergency response and search and rescue teams are travelling to Santiago today to help support relief efforts. The emergency team is composed of international and Latin American staff, including the Humanitarian Director Alistair Dutton and Hector Hanashiro of Caritas Peru. The Mexican search and rescue team recently worked in Haiti as part of Caritas relief efforts.
Caritas Internationalis President Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga said, “Caritas Chile and the bishops are keeping us updated on the needs of the people. Chile has faced a terrible catastrophe. The Caritas confederation will be there in support of the survivors in this initial phase of emergency response and as they look to rebuild the country.”
Caritas centres in 23 dioceses and archdioceses in Chile have been mobilized with help from the parishes. They are Antofagasta, La Serena, Santiago, Concepción, Puerto Montt, Arica, Iquique, Copiapó, San Felipe, Valparaíso, Melipilla, San Bernardo, Rancagua, Talca, Linares, Chillán, Los Ángeles, Temuco, Villarrica, Valdivia, Osorno, Ancud and Punta Arenas.
Archbishop Ricardo Ezzati of Concepción condemned the actions of those using the chaos to loot as being responsible of a “second earthquake”. He also said the organization of relief efforts is making progress although it remains difficult to get in touch with some parishes, mainly along the coast.
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