Multiple earthquakes and subsequent aftershocks rocked the western side of the Asia-Pacific Ring of Fire last week.
Japan (two quakes), Myanmar (6.9), and Vanuatu (6.4), were the most heavily affected.
"Here at the Nazarene World Mission Communications center in Manila, Philippines, we are closely monitoring social media 'safe check-ins' and waiting for reports from our Nazarenes throughout the region," said Todd Aebischer, regional communications coordinator.
While no tsunami warnings have been released, there have been reports of moderate damage and injuries.
Two earthquakes in Japan caused significant damage and at least 48 fatalities.
“The first huge earthquake hit Kumamoto on Thursday, April 14 at 9:26 p.m.," said Makio Nakade, pastor of the Kumamoto Church of the Nazarene. "The church building and inside of the church received very little damage. However, strong aftershocks continued to disturb our sleep that night. I confirmed the safety of our church members, including some members who live in the area receiving the most damage, Mashiki-machi.
"The second earthquake (magnitude 7.3) hit on Saturday, April 16 at 1:30 a.m. My wife, my son, and I evacuated from the house to the park in front of the church. The aftershocks continued, so we decided to sleep at the park with some blankets. I confirmed the safety of our church members [Saturday]. However, some of the members’ houses received terrible damage. The church building also was damaged. We decided to cancel tomorrow’s worship service. So far, the lifeline (electricity, gas, and water) stopped at a limited area, including our church. The news said 11 people died and 880 people were injured. Please continue to pray for Kumamoto.”
The Japan District is responding.
“Rev. Furukawa, Japan district superintendent, is asking all churches in Japan to pray and support the earthquake victims," said Marty Egashira of NCM Japan. "Rev. Egami, Japan Nazarene Compassionate Ministries coordinator, will visit from Tokyo to Kyushu for further support survey. Please continue to pray because the aftershocks are continuing and the places [being impacted] are expanding all over Kushu island, where 13 Nazarene churches exist.”
The tremor was 83.7 miles below the surface, according to the U.S. Geological Survey, with an epicenter located 46 miles southeast of Mawlaik and 246 miles north of the capital, Naypyidaw. Because the quake occurred in the sparsely populated jungle, casualties and damage were minimized, the Associated Press said. Southwest of Mandalay, Relief and Resettlement Department Director Sa Willy Frient told the AP nobody in the area was seriously injured, but nine pagodas were damaged. There are still no reports of fatalities as of this time.
There were no immediate reports of damage or casualties from the earthquake. No tsunami warnings were issued as earthquakes below magnitude 7.5 do not tend to generate tsunamis.
“We didn’t feel it at all," said missionaries David and Sylvia Potter. "I just checked a couple earthquake sites and the epicenter was in the same location where quakes have been happening often. The largest today was 6.4. It was in the ocean and I’ve heard no reports of a tsunami. Generally, our quakes are so brief that even strong ones don’t have time to do too much damage. Thanks for checking in on us!”
Continued prayer is requested for those who have been affected by these earthquakes.