Saturday, February 27, 2010


We woke up early Saturday morning in Utah to hear breaking news of a massive earthquake in Chile — measured at 8.8 on the Richter scale!! We spent much of the day glued to CNN and searching the Internet, watching the nonstop news reports and trying to find more details, hoping and praying that all was well. We heard that the main damage was in the Concepcion area, but there were lots of pictures and videos of damage in Santiago. At one point we were watching a video channel from Chile over the Internet, and they showed a shot of a collapsed building in Maipu! Lots of road damage too around Santiago.

We got confirmation about 10:00 that all missionaries in the Chile Santiago West mission had been contacted and were safe. We were very grateful to hear that!

This will be one of the top 10 most powerful earthquakes ever recorded in all of history. Fortunately it was offshore and underwater, so the damage won't be as bad as it might have been closer to the shore. The epicenter was about 200 miles southwest of Santiago, and about 73 miles northeast of Concepcion. By Saturday evening, the death toll was at about 200 but expected to rise much higher.

Some of the significant damage in Chile occurred from tsunami waves that smashed into the coastal areas shortly after the earthquakes. Much of the rest of the day was spent in anticipation of possible additional tsunami damage to Pacific islands, including Hawaii. There were massive evacuations from coastal areas. But by the evening, it appeared the danger had passed. There were tsunami impacts, but only a few feet, and damage was minimal.

During the afternoon. we had two wonderful "confirmations" of Matt's safety. A young member in Santiago "friended" me on Facebook and then told me she had seen Matt today and that he was doing fine. Then later in the afternoon, I was contacted by one of Sarah's friends who had served a mission in Chile. One of his former companions lives in Santiago, and he said he had been chatting with him via computer and realized that Matt was there — he had been spending most of the day at his house! We're guessing the missionaries were instructed to find a safe place to stay indoors while things settled down.

Matt passed on a few things to us through this contact chain. The house they live in was undamaged. Matt and his companion DID wake up and feel the shaking at 3:30 a.m. — "it scared them for a few minutes, but then they were ok. Knowing Matt, he loves adventure though." Power was out for a while, then came back on. Not much damage in their direct neighborhood (though some other areas of Maipu were more impacted).

I found this reference: "In the Maipu neighborhood of the capital, a four-story apartment complex caved into the underground parking lot, crushing the cars. But rescuers managed to pull residents from the rubble." I found the attached photo, which was taken in Maipu and must be that building.

So, at the end of the day - we're relieved and grateful, and very eager for Monday's P-day to come!! We heard of a few missionaries in Chile who either called home or sent brief emails; but we're just grateful to have had the contact we did.

Here are a few more images of the conditions in Santiago. So these were bad enough; the pictures from the coastal areas are much more frightening.

1 comment:

  1. There are very few things that scare me more than the thought of going through an earthquake. I'm glad to hear that Matt and the other missionaries were safe. :)