Chile (MNN/BP) — An 8.2 magnitude earthquake, followed by aftershocks as strong as 7.6, has rocked the country of Chile in South America. It’s a country where seismic activity is common. The frequent earthquakes cause Chileans to be prepared, no doubt resulting in lives saved according to most reports.
Southern Baptist International Mission Board missionaries in Chile are asking you to pray and to thank God for protection.
“Praise the Lord that Chile is very prepared for earthquakes,” said IMB’s Chita Drinkard, who serves in Santiago, Chile’s capital. Drinkard endured a similar 8.8-magnitude quake that rocked Santiago in 2010 and said Chileans are familiar with the country’s frequent seismic activity. “Even so, the terror of going through an earthquake of this magnitude can affect one for a long time, so please continue to pray,” she added.
Tuesday’s quake caused landslides, damage to buildings, power outages, and triggered a small tsunami; at least six people have been confirmed dead. The earthquake’s epicenter in the Pacific Ocean was about 60 miles northwest of Iquique, where IMB missionaries Cathy and Lee Zwink serve. The Zwinks are currently on stateside assignment in Colorado.
About 2,500 homes were damaged in Alto Hospicio, a poor neighborhood in the hills above Iquique. Poorly-constructed government subsidized housing was the cause of the damage.
“Pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ in northern Chile following the 8.2 earthquake off the coast of Iquique,” the Zwinks posted on their Facebook page. “Pray that our Lord’s grace and mercy will be poured down on our country [Chile] and be shared with all those affected by the quake.”
No other IMB personnel live in the quake zone. The nearest IMB missionaries are Bryan and Deana Wolf in the coastal city of La Serena, about 800 miles south of Iquique. They and most other IMB missionaries in Chile didn’t even feel the quake, said Bob Shirey, IMB’s logistics coordinator for Chile.
A 7.6-magnitude aftershock struck the region late Wednesday. There was no immediate word on damage or injuries.
This latest earthquake was the most powerful temblor to rock Chile since Feb. 27, 2010, when an 8.8-magnitude quake shattered central Chile. That quake and a subsequent tsunami claimed the lives of 524 people.
“More than anything, pray for the people to be calm and to have their hearts turned to the Lord for their needs,” said Jackie Bursmeyer, a veteran IMB missionary in Chile who experienced both the 2010 earthquake and an earlier 8.0-magnitude temblor in the coastal city of Vina del Mar in 1985.
Special thanks to Maria Elena Baseler, an IMB writer and editor living in the Americas for her contribution.