Chilean Town Evacuated from Unexpected Volcanic Eruption

For the first time in recorded history, the Chaitén Volcano in southern Chile erupted unexpectedly on May 1. The remote town of Chaitén, 10 miles south, was totally unprepared for the rain of toxic ash that fell from the skies. The cloud rose as high as 12 miles, and areas extending into Argentina turned white with ash. The Chilean government immediately began emergency evacuations, mostly by ship. Within two days, most of the 4,000 residents of Chaitén escaped, including all but two of the 60 members of the Alliance church there.  
On Saturday, May 3, Claudia Saez, a Chilean Alliance official worker, also left the city. Pastor Juan Cartes, president of the Southern District of the Chilean C&MA, reports that all church members are now safely out of the town, most of them staying with relatives in other cities while some fled to neighboring Argentina. It is uncertain if or when they will be able to return.  
General Alejandro Crestá, a member of the Cordillera Alliance Church and in charge of the 10th Region that includes Chaitén, flew with President Bachellet to view the destruction. Crestá’s wife is supervising all the military personnel that were evacuated to Puerto Montt, a port city in southern Chile. All their wives will be attending an Alliance Women’s Encounter next Saturday. “What an opportunity for the C&MA to minister healing for so many in this disaster!” said Alliance missionary David Woerner, who serves in Chile with his wife, Lou Ann. 
Pastor Cartes requests prayer for the church members who will face a serious economic impact. As of May 5, the eruptions continued and further evacuations were in motion for rural communities under the falling ash.


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