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Archbishop’s call to end nuclear power in Japan: The Church of England Newspaper, March 16, 2012 p 6. March 21, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Disaster Relief, Nippon Sei Ko Kai.
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The Primate of the Nippon Sei Ko Kai has written a pastoral letter to Japanese Anglicans marking the first anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake.  Archbishop Nathaniel Uematsu thanked Anglicans for their outreach to those left homeless by the 11 March 2011 magnitude 9.0 earthquake that devastated Japan’s East Coast province of Tohoku, but noted the experience had shown Japan that it must end its reliance upon nuclear power.

The most powerful quake ever to hit Japan, the Great East Japan Earthquake caused massive destruction and triggered a tsunami whose waves rose to 133 ft when it came ashore in Iwate Prefecture and pushed six miles inland around the city of Sendai.

On 12 March 2012, a Japanese National Police Agency report confirmed 15,854 deaths, 26,992 injuries, and 3,155 people missing across twenty prefectures from the earthquake and tsunami.  The physical destruction caused by the quake left 129,225 buildings destroyed, 254,204 buildings “half collapsed”, and another 691,766 buildings partially damaged the police reported.  The World Bank estimated the economic cost of the earthquake at $235 billion, making it the most expensive natural disaster in world history.

The tsunami waters also led to meltdowns at three reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, forcing residents within a 12 mile radius of the plants to leave their homes.

The Japanese government has since shut down most of the country’s 54 reactors, which had provided some 30 per cent of Japan’s electricity, leading to mandatory conservation schemes and rolling blackouts for the whole country as the country switches over to alternate forms of power generation.

In his letter, Archbishop Uematsu described the relief work being undertaken by church agencies for those devastated by the earthquake and tsunami.  He noted that “even today a great number of people remain in evacuation centres and temporary shelters with fears and uncertainties in their minds.”

“One year on, in the devastated towns and villages in the North-east of Japan, life is still far from a strong recovery. Even now, a great number of people are left with nowhere to go back to since their houses were contaminated by radioactive material.”

The archbishop noted the earthquake had led to a rethink of Japan’s energy policies.  Japan, he noted, “is the only country in the world which has experienced an atomic bomb attack in its history, and therefore we have always insisted on the abolition of nuclear weapons.”

“Meanwhile we have enjoyed the comfort and convenience which nuclear power plants have provided for us. The Great East Japan Earthquake revealed completely the fragility of the safety with which we have always trusted these nuclear power plants.”

“Now we must seek to change our lifestyle and find different energy sources,” the archbishop said.

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

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Christchurch Cathedral to be demolished: The Church of England Newspaper, March 9, 2012, p 7. March 15, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Aotearoa New Zealand & Polynesia, Church of England Newspaper.
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The Diocese of Christchurch in New Zealand reports that it will level its earthquake ravaged cathedral, bringing its walls down to a height of two to three meters. However, Bishop Victoria Matthews announced that the cathedral’s footprint would remain untouched and no wrecking balls would be used in the demolition.

Speaking to the press on 2 March 2012, Bishop Matthews said that safety and cost considerations were driving the diocese’s plans. “This is now a very dangerous building that needs to be made safe,” she told reporters, adding that the top priority was to “ensure people working on-site are safe.”

It is not feasible to rebuild the cathedral as it was, she said. “Currently, the Church Property Trust has estimated a $20-$30 million shortfall over the whole Anglican Diocese, which does not include the potential cost of any future damage.”

“In regard to the cathedral specifically, the sums are staggering,” the bishop said.

“A replica cathedral has been ruled out due to an estimated $100 million shortfall, while a new build incorporating some of the old would incur a shortfall of up to $50 million,” Bishop Matthews said.

“I am sad to have to relay this decision but I believe it is the way forward,” she added.

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Repairs underway for Washington’s National Cathedral: The Church of England Newspaper, Sept 9, 2011 p 6. September 11, 2011

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Washington.
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First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Washington has kicked off an ecumenical fundraising campaign to restore the Washington National Cathedral with a gift of $25,000.

On 23 August the Episcopal cathedral was damaged by an earthquake, which cracked the cathedral’s flying buttresses, damaged the spires of the central tower, and caused damage extensive damage to the building’s ornate stonework.

The damage caused by the 5.8 magnitude earthquake is not covered by insurance and the repairs are expected to take years to complete, as much of the work must be done by master stonemasons.

Washington’s Hebrew Congregation has hosted the Episcopal congregation during the past two Sundays as engineers surveyed the damage as stonemasons and structural engineers implement measures to secure the Cathedral nave before it reopens on 9 September in preparation for the national memorial service commemorating the tenth anniversary of 11 September, 2001. President Barack Obama will address the nation from the Cathedral’s pulpit to mark the occasion.

“We are grateful to our neighbours of faith for their hospitality, generosity, and most importantly, their prayers, as we face the enormous challenge of restoring damaged areas of the Cathedral,” said Cathedral Dean Samuel Lloyd.

“This gift from the Catholic Archdiocese of Washington, a testimony to the fellowship that exists between people of different faiths, makes clear the bond we share. We are also grateful for the outpouring of support from faithful individuals across the country, who have given generously in the aftermath of the earthquake. It is a great comfort as we begin to gather financial support for this endeavour, which we expect to reach into the millions of dollars ,” the dean said.

Cardinal Donald Wuerl said “it was with both shock and sadness that I learned of the damage sustained by Washington National Cathedral.”

“The National Cathedral holds a special place in the hearts of all of us in Washington. So many recognize it as a national house of prayer, and indeed its magnificent Gothic towers are a reminder of our constant need to raise our hearts in prayer to God in the midst of all of our daily preoccupations,” said Washington’s Catholic archbishop.

Washington hit by earthquake: The Church of England Newspaper, Aug 23, 2011 August 23, 2011

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Washington.
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The pinnacles atop Washington's National Cathedral central tower were damaged in Tuesday's earthquake. Photo tweeted by Jennifer Walker

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

A 5.8 magnitude earthquake has rocked the Eastern Seaboard of the United States, shaking buildings from Georgia to Massachusetts.  The Pentagon and other government offices in Washington were evacuated following the earthquake, while the central tower of Washington’s National Cathedral has been badly damaged.

According to the US Geological Survey, the quake struck at 17:51:04 UTC (1:51 pm local time) on Tuesday, Aug 23.  The epicenter of the quake was located near Mineral, Virginia, approximately 84 miles south west of Washington, DC.

Reports of the earthquake quickly appeared on the internet.  The Pentagon, Washington’s public monuments and parts of the Capitol were evacuated.  Three of the four pinnacles on the central tower of Washington’s National Cathedral have been damaged, according to reports tweeted by onlookers.  The cathedrals flying buttresses have cracked in several places, and one tweet reports the central tower is leaning to one side.

The cathedral’s website reports the building has been evacuated and closed to visitors pending a structural examination.

Office workers from afar afield as New York City, Columbus, Ohio, and Atlanta, Georgia evacuated high rise buildings when the quake hit.  Airports across the east coast have closed, however no injuries or deaths have been reported so far.

Tuesday’s earthquake comes as the Eastern Seaboard prepares for the landfall of Hurricane Irene, a category 3 storm that has lashed the Bahamas and is expected to make landfall on the US mainland on Aug 25.