Church leaders offer prayers and succor after deadly Taiwan earthquake

(Photo: © Peter Kenny)Holy Family Catholic Church in Taipei, Taiwan on Nov. 22, 2019.

Following the 7.4-magnitude earthquake that hit eastern Taiwan in Hualien on April 3 April, both the World Council of Churches and the Roman Catholic community have called for prayers for those impacted by the deadly temblor.

World Council of Churches general secretary Rev. Jerry Pillay extended condolences to the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan and those who lost loved ones and invited prayer and support for the people of Taiwan in the earthquake.

"Our prayers are with all those who lost loved ones in their families and among friends in this powerful earthquake and its aftershocks," said Pillay.

"Our thoughts and petitions are also with all those involved in the rescue work."

The quake, which was centered just off the coast of Hualien in Taiwan's east, is the largest to hit the island in 25 years.

At least ten people are dead and about 1,000 others injured. On 4 April, rescuers were still working to free dozens of people trapped in the rubble of landslides and collapsed structures as tremors still rocked the area.

"It also pains me to learn about the damages caused by the earthquake to the Yushan Theological Seminary," said Pillay. The seminary belongs to the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan.

"May the churches and specialized agencies in the ecumenical family be able to extend every possible support for humanitarian aid assistance in affected areas," said Pillay.

Bishop Tom Neylon, Britain's lead Bishop for Asia, called on the Catholic community to pray for those impacted by the quake—victims, friends, family, and the wider community.

"Please join me in prayer for those who have lost their lives, those who are mourning their families and friends, and all those who have been injured," said Bishop Neylon.

"We pray too for a swift recovery for the wider community, particularly in Hualien City, as they seek to rebuild following this dreadful earthquake."

Pope Francis earlier sent a telegram to the president of the Chinese Regional Bishops' Conference of Taiwan, Bishop John Baptist Lee Keh-Mean, assuring him of his solidarity and closeness, according to the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales.

The Pope's telegram assured those "affected by this disaster" of his "heartfelt solidarity and spiritual closeness." He also offered prayers "for the dead, the injured, and all those displaced, as well as for the emergency personnel engaged in recovery efforts."


Nearly 4 percent of Taiwan's 23.6 million people are Christians with Buddhism the having the biggest following.

The death toll following a powerful earthquake in Taiwan rose to 13 on Saturday after another body was discovered in hard-hit Taroko National Park, Bernama news agency reported, quoting DPA.

Six people were still unaccounted for.

In Hualien, around which Wednesday's 7.2-magnitude earthquake was centered, roads in mountainous areas remained blocked by multiple landslides.

In the national park on March 6, rescue teams found one body and were still trying to remove others trapped under rocks. The discovery brought the death toll to 13, the National Fire Agency said, with six people still unaccounted for.

The disaster caused at least 1,145 injuries.

Meanwhile, more than 440 people, including tourists and residents, remained stranded at several sites in the park known for its rugged terrain, according to authorities.

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