Pope Francis expressed his “heartfelt sorrow” after a powerful earthquake killed at least 120 people and left a trail of destruction across central Italy. Hundreds of people were injured and dozens of others missing in several small towns after the magnitude-6.2 quake struck at 3:36 a.m. local time (Aug. 24). The quake’s epicenter was about 90 miles northeast of Rome, but the shock waves were felt from the southern city of Naples to the northern town of Rimini on the Adriatic Coast. A powerful aftershock of 5.4 magnitude followed an hour later.
A 6.8 earthquake struck Myanmar on Aug. 24, reports the Wall Street Journal, the same day a deadly earthquake struck Italy. At least three people have died.
Rescue efforts are underway to help people trapped or injured by the earthquake, which hit towns across central Italy, nearly 100 miles north of Rome and Vatican City. The quake is the deadliest for the country since a 2009 quake that hit L’Aquila and killed more than 300, also in central Italy. Rescuers are continuing to search for survivors.
Pope Francis, who was scheduled to give a speech to his general audience Wednesday, instead prayed with and for the people of Italy, reports Reuters.
Emergency teams from U.S. faith-based humanitarian relief agencies are on the ground in northwest Ecuador after the 7.8 magnitude earthquake that took the lives of at least 413 people. The April 16 quake destroyed more than 300 buildings, buckling overpasses and trapping drivers. More than 2,500 people were injured.
Lokesh Todi, born and raised in Kathmandu, moved home to Nepal nine months ago to be an entrepreneur. When the 7.8-magnitude earthquake hit last Saturday, he and a cousin started a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo to help connect concerned givers with local NGOs.
“We thought we could get some supplies to local groups. Our goal was to get $20,000 — that’s a lot of money in Nepal," said Todi, a recent graduate of Yale University's M.B.A program.
Thanks to their concerned networks, including thousands of shares from Todi’s Facebook page, the campaign has now raised $120,150 — more than six times the amount they expected.
“I’m really hoping to make sure that all this money goes to right channels, and make sure that every dollar is spent properly and wisely. My goal is to help the community build back stronger and a little bit more prepared,” said Todi.
About 80 percent of Nepalese are Hindu, making Nepal the second-largest Hindu nation outside of India, with about 2 percent of the global total. Most Hindus believe in a kind of fatalism, and many here seemed unrattled by the quake as a test of faith, even as their temples and shrines were flattened.
“God had predestined it. He knew about it,” said Suresh Shrestha, a Hindu and a hotel owner. His house was partially damaged and he is living in a tent on the Tundikhel ground in Kathmandu.
Akriti Mahajan, a young girl who was standing outside her family’s tent nearby, suspects that man-made climate change had something to do with it.
“Humans are behind it,” she said. “If God had a role, this wouldn’t have happened.”
This past week I had an opportunity to teach an intensive course on the book of Matthew. I enjoy these opportunities, not only to teach, but to look at and present a book from start to finish. Although it is not possible to delve into every detail found within the book, following the plot line from start to finish helps to pick up on themes and recurring events and/or elements that accentuate and highlight certain points throughout the broader story. It is easy to miss such connections when snippets and bits and pieces are read rather than reading the whole story from beginning to end.
One such theme is how unsettling — literally — the person of Jesus was. Throughout Matthew’s gospel we hear how Jesus shook the foundations of society.