China earthquake: churches join relief efforts

Rescuers are continuing to dig through the rubble for survivors after a powerful earthquake yesterday left at least 617 dead and 9,000 injured in Yushu, in the western mountainous province of Qinghai. Around a thousand people have so far  been rescued  from the debris. Seventy percent of schools collapsed in the quake, killing dozens of students.

Church organizations in mainland China are mobilizing resources working with the Relief Department of Jinde Charities. Father Joseph Li Dongsheng of Qinghai told the nationwide Catholic NGO that quake survivors are presently staying in the open-air area at a racecourse for fear of aftershocks. The road leading to Yushu has been cut off and most of the houses have collapsed.

The priest said there is only one Catholic family living in Yushu, where 93 percent of the population is ethnic Tibetan. The three members of the family, which provided the information on the situation, are unharmed although their house is slightly damaged.

According to China’s official Xinhua News Agency, more than 100,000 victims spent the night braving a temperature of minus 4 degrees Celsius.

Overseas Church partners, such as Caritas International and other Caritas network members, have called or emailed Jinde to express their desire to cooperate with Chinese Catholics in carrying out relief work.

The Catholic Social Service Center of Xi’an diocese, based in the capital of Shaanxi province, has appealed for donations and prayers for victims.

The organization plans to send volunteers to assist at the disaster area, as well as food and clothing. It also plans to participate in post-quake rebuilding efforts.

In Rome, Pope Benedict XVI prayed for quake victims at the end of his general audience in St Peter’s Square yesterday.

“I am praying for the victims and am spiritually near all those affected by this very serious tragedy. I implore God that they may find relief from their suffering and courage in this time of adversity. I hope that there will be no lack of solidarity shown,” he said.

Source: MISNA/Fides

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