THE Taiwanese Church will do everything it can to help those caught up in an earthquake last week, the Bishop of Taiwan, the Rt Revd David Lai, has said.
At least 41 people were killed in the 6.4-magnitude earthquake which struck on Saturday, and a further 121 were still unaccounted for as the Church Times went to press on Wednesday.
Most of the victims died after a building collapsed in the city of Tainan. Bishop Lai told Premier Radio that the diocese of Taiwan, which is part of the Episcopal Church in the United States, would raise money to help rebuild homes and buildings destroyed by the earthquake.
“We’ve already asked all the churches to pray for them,” he said on Saturday. “We will try our best to help them. I will encourage some church members to go to that area, to have some action, to take care.”
Survivors, including an eight-year-old girl, were still being plucked from the rubble by rescue teams as late as Friday. One woman was found alive, sheltered from a falling beam by the body of her husband.
The developer of the Tainan block which collapsed has been arrested by the authorities, who suspect that the building’s poor construction may have led to its collapse during the earthquake.
A city official told news agencies in Tainan that the developer had been arrested on suspicion of negligent homicide. Earthquakes are common in Taiwan, but normally do not cause significant damage or loss of life, owing to rigorous building regulations.
Bishop Lai said that the disaster was an opportunity for Taiwanese Christians to serve their neighbours. “[We can] let them know Christians do not just stay in the church,” he said.
“We will ask the local church, priests, pastors, and the church members to do some activity to help them.”
Pope Francis has also sent a message to the survivors of the earthquake, and the relatives of those who died. The Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, said in a statement: “The Holy Father was saddened to learn of the suffering caused by the deadly earthquake which struck in Tainan.
“He sends prayerful condolences to the families of the deceased and injured, as well as to rescue personnel and the civil authorities.”