Please pray for Hualien on the Taiwan’s east coast, battered by a legion of earthquakes, starting with a magnitude 5.8 earthquake on Sunday February 4 that peaked with the main quake, magnitude 6.4 (registered as 7 in downtown Hualien) at 11:50 pm, last night, Tuesday February 6. Between those 2 major earthquakes, 94 shocks were recorded, with five of them reaching magnitude 5.0 or higher. Since last night, there have been seemingly non-stop aftershocks. Many of these have been felt throughout Taiwan. So although last night’s earthquake was not totally unexpected, the fact that 4 major high-rise buildings in Hualien collapsed as a result is a huge shock and major disaster, with the death toll rising by the hour and many still missing. The weather has been very cold, with snow on the mountains, but now there is heavy rain, which together with the instability of the tilting buildings is hampering rescue efforts.
The Taiwan Episcopal Church has one church in Hualien, St. Luke’s Church, and the vicar, Rev. Joseph M. L. Wu posted photos of the damage to the building (see below – click on each photo to enlarge). The church altar table, made of glass, was completely destroyed in the earthquake. Like many church buildings in Taiwan, the church is actually the ground floor of a high building, with apartments above. Fortunately, the building did not sustain any structural damage.
Bishop David J. H. Lai has today transferred an initial NT$ 200,000 (US$ 6,850 / GB£ 4,915) to St. Luke’s Church for repair work, and is encouraging all our church members throughout Taiwan to donate to St. Luke’s Church for relief and repairs. All church members are reported as safe, but many with damage to their homes and businesses, and of course shock and concern about ongoing aftershocks. Mr. Yang, chair of the St. Luke’s Church council, runs a guest house in Hualien directly opposite the multi-story Marshal Hotel, which collapsed in the earthquake, yet his building only sustained minor damage in comparison. Power and water cuts are an ongoing problem, and drinking water is in very short supply. Hualien has a high number of people belong to the indigenous people groups, and many are Christians, belonging particularly to the Presbyterian and Roman Catholic Churches. Their faith and church community support will be a great source of strength to them at this time.
This earthquake comes exactly two years to the very day since Taiwan’s last major earthquake, in which another high-rise apartment building collapsed in the southern city of Tainan resulting in 117 deaths. That earthquake occurred during the Chinese New Year festival. This earthquake occurs one week before Chinese New Year, and people are obviously busy in preparations. Hualien is a major tourist city, due to the nearby scenic beauty of Taroko Gorge and the east coast, plus the indigenous cultures. Roads, infrastructure, hotels and scenic spots are badly damaged. Many people will now be putting their travel plans on hold, and sadly this will have a major effect on the economy of the region.
Your prayers are much appreciated. Thank you.
Updated on Thursday February 8: For latest news, check out these 2 reports both from the Taipei Times website:
Building rescue efforts continue – about the way the leaning angles of one of the tilted buildings increased from 30° to 45° through the day, then at 3 pm, the building “visibly moved 4 cm within 10 minutes”….
Update from Bishop Lai’s office: The Rev. Joseph Wu reports today that the church is already cleaned up, and repairs are starting. Joseph has sent these 2 photos of the church today. Doesn’t it look different from yesterday?!
He also says that money donated by our churches in Taiwan or overseas will be used in possible relief work in the local community, but all relief will be done in and through cooperation with Taiwan World Vision (Eastern Region) in Hualien, who are on the ground with experts and resources in place, and are coordinating relief ministry in that area. Joseph is still in the process of getting in touch with them and offering his help.
Updated on Monday February 12: Rescue work ends as quake toll hits 17
Updated on Wednesday February 14: Article from the Anglican Communion News Service: Church aids relief effort after 6.4 Magnitude earthquake strikes Taiwan’s Hualien county
Thank you all for your concern and prayers.