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El Salvador mudslides claim lives of dozens of Adventists

El Salvador mudslides claim lives of dozens of Adventists

Dozens of Seventh-day Adventists are dead after flooding and mudslides destroyed roads and bridges and buried homes last week in El Salvador. Hurricane Ida caused more than 170 deaths in the country, including 30 Adventists. Sixteen church members are st

November 18, 2009 | Libna Stevens/IAD

Dozens of Seventh-day Adventists are dead after flooding and mudslides destroyed roads and bridges and buried homes last week in El Salvador.
Hurricane Ida caused more than 170 deaths in the country, including 30 Adventists. Sixteen church members are still missing after the category 2 hurricane passed through El Salvador November 9.

"In all the years that I've been associated with the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) in disaster response, I have never seen such a heavy loss among our church members in Inter-America," said Wally Amundson, ADRA director for the church in Inter-America. "We are saddened by how this is impacting the members of our church in El Salvador and pray our leaders will have the endurance to face the immediate challenges."

ADRA is responding to the affected municipalities of San Salvador, La Libertad, De La Paz, San Vicente and Cuzcatlan. More than 40,000 people have been affected by Ida, and thousands of displaced families are scattered among 85 emergency shelters, said Jorge Salazar, ADRA director for El Salvador.

Most of the deaths occurred in the central rural part of the country. More than 100 ADRA volunteers are assisting the community, as well as rescue teams, Salazar said. The government has also offered three helicopters to deliver ADRA supplies.

In addition to the funds released by ADRA and the church in Inter-America to assist the disaster relief effort, Hope for Humanity has sent special funds to assist affected communities and the general public surrounding the literacy circle program.

Some 345 Adventist families were displaced by the storm, 206 of their homes were damaged and four church buildings were also destroyed.

Treasurer for the church in the Mid-Central America region Saul Ortiz said one church member lost 15 family members.

"It will be some time before we can rebuild these churches and families can return to their communities," Ortiz said.

Church leaders for the region are providing special funds to affected Adventist families who will need to relocate soon. In the meantime, members whose home church was destroyed will meet in small group settings for worship, Ortiz said.

Another landslide last week in northern Tanzania claimed the lives of more than two dozen Adventists. Four days of heavy rain triggered the slide, which killed 24 members of one family. Several people are still missing.

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