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Taiwanese Church pledges support for earthquake victims

7.4-magnitude quake was the strongest to hit the island since 1999
Earthquake affected people enter a tent at a temporary reception center set up at a local school in Hualien on April 3, 2024, after a major earthquake hit east Taiwan. At least nine people were killed and more than 1,000 injured on April 3 by the powerful earthquake that damaged dozens of buildings.

Earthquake affected people enter a tent at a temporary reception center set up at a local school in Hualien on April 3, 2024, after a major earthquake hit east Taiwan. At least nine people were killed and more than 1,000 injured on April 3 by the powerful earthquake that damaged dozens of buildings. (Photo: AFP)

Published: April 04, 2024 05:38 AM GMT
Updated: April 04, 2024 10:41 AM GMT

A Catholic diocese in Taiwan has mourned the dead and promised to support affected communities after the strongest earthquake in decades hit the island leaving nine dead and more than 800 injured on April 3.

Hualien Catholic Diocese, covering the city on the eastern coast of Taiwan, issued statements on the same day expressing concerns for the families of the dead and injured.

The area is among those most affected by the strongest quake in about 25 years.

The epicenter of the 7.4-magnitude quake was 18 kilometers (11 miles) south of Hualien City, at a depth of 34.8 kilometers, media reports say.

No parish churches reported any serious damage, the diocese said.

“The diocese immediately contacted all parishes to express condolences and offer care. There have been no reports of serious damage at this time, except for some parishes where items have fallen or are damaged and need to be repaired,” Bishop Philip Huang Chao-ming of Hualien said in a message.

As aftershocks continue, parish priests, pastoral committee heads and members, and parishioners are requested to continue to be vigilant, pay attention to safety, stay away from buildings, and seek refuge in open spaces, the message warned.

“Please keep close attention to the needs of people and parishes, and to assist in the restoring work in a timely manner. I also wish that the disaster and conditions in stricken areas will be gone soon, and that God grants us peace! God bless Taiwan!” Huang said.

He urged Catholics to seek “the peace of the resurrected Jesus in our worries and fears!”

The earthquake was felt across the entire island and damaged many buildings. It prompted Taiwan, Japan, and Philippines to issue tsunami warnings, which were later lifted.

In September 1999, a 7.6-magnitude earthquake hit Taiwan and killed 2,400, making it the deadliest natural disaster in the island’s history.

Taiwan has an estimated population of 23.9 million with Christians numbering about four percent, including about 300,000 Catholics.

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