Southern Baptists are moving
quickly to assess relief needs in the aftermath of an 8.8-magnitude earthquake
that struck Chile at earlier today, killing at least 82 people, collapsing
buildings and setting off a tsunami.
Disaster relief specialists from South Carolina and California are on standby
to respond, said Jim Brown, director of the U.S. office for the International
Mission Board’s (IMB) primary partner in disaster relief, Baptist Global
A decision about what initial response is needed will be made
within the next 12 hours.
The epicenter was located just 70 miles from Concepcion, a city of more than
200,000 people, the U.S. Geological Survey reported.
A tsunami wave struck the
Robinson Crusoe Islands, 410 miles off the Chilean coast and tsunami warnings
have been issued for Hawaii, Australia, New Zealand and Asia. Chile’s
president, Michele Bachelet, declared a “state of catastrophe” in three central
regions of the country.
Several hospitals were evacuated and communications
with Concepcion were knocked out.
In the capital city of Santiago, which is about 200 miles from the earthquake,
IMB field personnel reported in a 5:00 a.m. e-mail that they had experienced “very
scary shaking” and that electrical, telephone and water services were cut off.
IMB and BGR leadership began consulting immediately during the early morning
hours after the earthquake, said Scott Holste, associate vice president for the
IMB’s office of global strategy.
“We are evaluating damage reports as they come in and preparing initial
response plans, if it is determined that a significant response is needed,”
Holste said. “Southern Baptists have ministry partners in Chile who will be
able to help respond immediately with basic necessities.”
“We know that immediate needs usually include things like food, water, shelter
and medical needs,” Brown said. “We have emergency response funds available to
help with the crisis response. Southern Baptists always respond quickly when a
disaster like this strikes. They pray and give from the heart. We’re glad to
know so many people who care are ready to spring into action to help people in
Word has been received from IMB leaders in Chile that all field personnel have
been accounted for and are safe; information about the impact on the Chilean
Baptist community is being sought. IMB will be monitoring developments and will
issue further announcements about needs and response as more information becomes