The shocking news of the earthquake in Japan this morning have left the Church in Japan struggling. Please pray for this country and its people.
Damage from a magnitude 8.9 earthquake and ensuing tsunamis are preventing Church officials in Japan from assessing needs as tsunami warnings are issued for 50 other countries.
Yasufumi Matsukuma, a staffer at the Japanese bishops’ conference, told the Asian Church news agency UCA News that most staffers would remain in the offices overnight because of suspended rail service and continuous aftershocks.
“In Tokyo, telephone lines are so busy that I cannot contact diocesan chancellor offices in Japan. Aftershocks have followed. The tsunamis are terrible and we cannot get any information concerning the Church yet,” he said.
Disruption of telecommunications has made it impossible for the conference’s general secretariat to contact Sendai, near the quake’s epicenter, and neighbouring dioceses, he added.
Television and web video showed cars, ships and even buildings being swept away by a wall of water hitting Sendai, and CNN reported police discovered at least 200 to 300 bodies in the city.
Daisuke Narui, executive director of Caritas Japan, said in a statement: “We are still collecting information at this point, but currently we are not able to communicate on the phone. Cell phones are also out of service.”
A spokeswoman for Catholic Relief Services said the agency was on high alert in many countries in Asia, including the Philippines and Caritas Oceania, which is active in many islands in the Pacific.
This earthquake is the strongest since a magnitude 9.1 quake struck off Indonesia in December 2004. The quake and the tsunamis that followed left about 220,000 people dead or missing in more than a dozen countries around the Indian Ocean.
“We know from 2004 the devastating impact that these tsunamis can have,” said Sean Callahan, CRS executive vice president for overseas operations. “As with all such disasters, CRS will help people recover from the emergency and stand with them as they recover
(Source: Catholic Herald)
Update from Caritas:
Caritas Japan is mobilizing to respond to the 10 metre tsunami that struck in the region of the Diocese of Sendai today.
“A tsunami has hit our people. Is a tidal wave has come to overwhelm our lives. We are still in shock over what has happened,” Father Koichi Otaki of the Diocese of Niigata told Fides. “The news is mixed, but the diocese most affected is that of Sendai. Our Bishop, Bishop Isao Kikuchi, President of Caritas Japan, ensures us that as the Japanese Catholic community, though very small, we will not walk away from our commitment and our solidarity with the victims.”
“The tsunami reminds us of the precariousness of life. Solidarity and assistance to the victims will certainly be our Lenten commitment,” says the priest.
A ten-meter tsunami struck the coast of Sendai, the capital of the prefecture of Miyagi in north-eastern Japan, following several violent earthquakes registered off the coast of Japan. Bishop Kikuchi is invested in the emergency.
He had just returned to Japan after a meeting of Caritas Asia in Bangkok, where the Assembly elected a new president of Caritas Asia. The appointment will be ratified by the General Assembly of Caritas Internationalis in May in Rome.
Caritas Asia’s Fr Bonnie Mendes said: “We are in constant contact with the Caritas Japan, which is monitoring the situation, the damage and the victims. We hope that there are not too many casualties. We expect to have a better understanding of the situation of displaced persons and their need to plan an emergency intervention.”
Here’s some video:
The stuff of nightmares for all coastal dwellers.
Lord, help them.
Terrifying footage. Looking at the flow of the devastating waters, you fear for the people involved, at every turn of the waters. Horrifying! And yet, the earthquake and the waters of the tsunami are part of the ebb and flow of creation. That too is part of the mystery. Frightening but true.
Yes indeed Rabit.
One of my sons returned from a visit to Japan (part holiday, part business) only three weeks ago. We had recently been pouring over his loads of amazing photos of this fascinating country.
We feel shocked and deeply saddened by this new tragedy, coming so soon after the NZ earthquake.