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Baptists aiding earthquake survivors respond to new El Salvador quake

SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador (BP)–Southern Baptists missionaries and volunteers already aiding survivors of January’s deadly earthquake in El Salvador immediately began responding to the powerful new quake that hit the Central American nation Feb. 13.

The latest temblor, registering 6.6 on the Richter scale, struck in the morning as many people were heading for work. It killed more than 170 people and injured at least 1,600 while inflicting major damage on three districts near the capital city of San Salvador.

“We already have a couple of thousand nice, warm blankets in our warehouse that we had not yet passed out” to survivors of the Jan. 13 quake, reported Southern Baptist missionary Mark Grumbles from San Salvador late Feb. 13. “We’ve already given out 4,000 blankets, and these are received with great enthusiasm as people are sleeping outside in makeshift shelters of plastic, tin or cardboard if they can get it. We’ve helped to provide plastic and food to about 2,000 families as well.”

Disaster relief volunteers sent by Texas Baptist Men to help clean up and provide drinking water to a town hit by the previous quake “got a scare” when the new quake hit, Grumbles said.

“They are all safe — just about everything in that town had fallen down last month,” Grumbles said. “A team from California and Alabama were doing the same work last week. Baptist Men from North and South Carolina are preparing to come this month, too. A feeding team from Texas Baptist Men Disaster Relief was here for two weeks feeding thousands a day in two refugee shelters and giving a Christian witness. Over 200 accepted Christ during their time here. They trained local people to cook and serve before they left so that the ministry could continue. It continues in one camp but not in the other, so that the kitchen equipment is available to use in another area.

“It continues to amaze me how the Lord works things out. Tomorrow we will be investigating the feasibility of using [the kitchen equipment] in San Vicente, a city where 70 percent of the buildings were destroyed this morning.”

The International Mission Board already has released $60,000 for quake relief in El Salvador. The aid is paying for food, blankets, plastic sheeting for shelter and other supplies. Grumbles is developing projects to rebuild churches, schools and houses in quake-affected areas. January’s temblor killed more than 800 people and left tens of thousands homeless.

Contributions toward the relief effort can be sent to: International Mission Board, General Relief Fund – El Salvador Earthquake, PO Box 6767, Richmond, VA 23230.

“I ask that you continue to pray for the Salvadoran people and for the local Baptists who have worked constantly to minister to their neighbors,” Grumbles appealed. “All of our efforts have been channeled through local churches and Christ has received the honor that he deserves.”

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