Churches are suffering after an 8.9-magnitude earthquake and tsunami devastated northeastern Japan on 11 March. The National Police Agency announced that, as of 14 March, about 1,800 people have died, and 2,400 are missing. More than 10,000 may have died, according to police and news reports.
A spokesman for the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Japan told ENInews that a Catholic priest, Fr. Lachapelle Andre, 76, of the Quebec Foreign Mission Society, had been killed in Sendai, one of the cities hardest-hit by the quake and tsunami. The priest "went back to see the conditions of the damages to the Shiogama Church that he was in charge of," said the spokesman. However, there were conflicting accounts from diocesan officials as to whether he died of a heart attack or was caught in the tsunami that devoured towns on the coast.
The Anglican Christchurch cathedral in Sendai is badly damaged, according to a statement from Archbishop Nathaniel Makoto Uematsu. "While there were still so many aftershocks, the church carried out their first Sunday after Lent service in the diocesan office," he said. It has been difficult to reach many churches, and there is particular concern for two churches: Isoyama St Peter’s Church in Fukushima Prefecture and Kamaishi Shinai Church and the kindergarten in Iwate that were close to the sea, he said.
The United Church of Christ in Japan reported on its Japanese website that a chapel of its Shinsei Kamaishi Church in the coastal fishing city of Kamaishi is "drowned into the water" and filled with mud and oil. Earlier, the church had reported that the chapel had been "washed away." The pastor and his wife were evacuated. Built in 2000, the chapel was known as a pioneer "eco-church," with a solar-power system and transparent glass roof.
The church grouping also reported that the tsunami reached the Miyako Church in the city of Miyako, north of Kamaishi. "[The church is] contaminated by heavy oil. The chapel cannot be used," the United Church reported.
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