PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, JAN. 14, 2010 (Zenit.org).- The apostolic nuncio to Haiti is reporting that amid extensive destruction in Port-au-Prince due to Tuesday’s earthquake, the nunciature managed to remain standing.
Archbishop Bernardito Auzas affirmed this to Fides a day after the 7.0-magnitude quake “completely devastated” the country’s capital.
“The cathedral, the archbishopric, all the important churches and all the seminaries [buildings] have been reduced to rubble,” he said.
Archbishop Joseph Serge Miot of the Port-au-Prince Archdiocese was among those killed in the collapse.
The nuncio added that many seminarians and priests also died under the rubble, though the cathedral’s parish priest was able to escape.
He continued, “In the morning I went to express my condolences and solidarity to the president, who was saved because he was outside the palace with his family,” though the national palace and his private home were destroyed.
The prelate said that “the parliament with senators, the schools with children, the supermarkets, all have been reduced to rubble.”
He continued, “The general headquarters of MINUSTAH — the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti — has become a heap of cement and hundreds of people are trapped.”
Archbishop Auzas reported what he saw around the city: “I have found priests and nuns on the street, homeless. The rector of the seminary was saved, also the dean of studies, but many seminarians are trapped in the rubble. Everywhere one hears cries under the rubble.”
He added that the Institute of Studies for Men and Women Religious collapsed with several people inside who were attending a conference.
Despite all of this destruction, the prelate said, “the nunciature resisted.” He added that “there are no wounded but we are in shock.”
The nuncio continued: “Many things were broken, including the tabernacle, but we have been lucky, all things considered. Many relatives of the staff have died and their homes have been destroyed.
“All are asking for help. Soon we will have water and food problems. We cannot go in or stay a long while in the house because the earth continues to shake, so we are camping in the garden.”
Meanwhile, aid forces are being mobilized to help the estimated 3 million people who were affected by the earthquake. Agencies such as Caritas and Aid to the Church in Need are providing food, medicine and shelter to the survivors.
The Catholic Relief Services, an agency of the U.S. bishops’ conference, was asked by the Pontifical Council Cor Unum to coordinate these efforts.
Some 50 countries have also sent support to the impoverished nation in the form of volunteer aid workers, pledges of money and material resources.