Chengdu (AsiaNews/CCCCN) - The three days of national mourning called for by the Chinese government to honour the victims of the earthquake are also marking the life of the Church in China. The dioceses close to the epicentre are also beginning to take stock of the destruction to churches and other religious buildings.
In these days, all of the parishes of the country are celebrating Masses for the deceased, and gathering funds and donations for rebuilding. Many groups of Catholic volunteers have already left for Sichuan to offer their assistance with medical care and the distribution of food and water.
Today, at noon, the government again updated the numbers: 41,353 dead; 274,683 wounded; 32,666 missing. The health ministry has declared that more than 3,000 of the wounded have died in hospital. Meanwhile, according to Xinhua, the army and volunteers have succeeded in restoring electricity to almost the entire area of the quake, except in Beichuan, which is very close to the epicentre. Of the 20,829 kilometres of road that have been damaged, at least 19,645 have been repaired and reopened for traffic.
The community in the area of the quake is trying to assess the extent of the destruction and material damage caused to Church structures (for the tally of victims among Catholics, see: Chinese Christians aid Sichuan quake survivors).
The diocese of Chengdu - which also includes the area of the epicentre - has compiled a provisional tally:
1. In Chengdu, a church in the area of Pinganqiao had its roof destroyed and its walls cracked in various places;
2. The Church of Mianzhu and the parish residence have been totally destroyed [see the attached photos], and many nearby houses are in danger; the priest is living under a tent.
3. In the city of Pengzhou, the roof of a church collapsed, as did two of the columns inside it. Another church in Bailu was destroyed, together with the adjacent residence. Other parish buildings also collapsed.
4. In the county of Jintang, the church was constructed in the Oriental style, with seven different canopies. All of the tiles fell off, and one of the walls of the church collapsed. The roof of the parish of Sujiawan also collapsed.
5. The roofs were destroyed and walls collapsed in the churches of Qionglai, Dayi, Shuangliu, Dujiangyan (including the churches of Yichong and Liujie), Xindu, Pujiang, and Wenjiang. Some homes also collapsed.
6. The parish of Jingyang, in the county of Deyang, shows large holes in the wall and cement roof.
7. In Mianyang, the roofs of the church and the parish residence have been destroyed; a commemorative arch and more than half of the homes of the church of Xiushui have been destroyed; the walls of the churches of Youxianqu, Wangjiawan, and Shiban are cracked, their roofs have collapsed, and they are very dangerous.
8. The churches of Guangyuan, Cangi, Jiulongshan, and Dayuan have cracks in their walls; their roofs are in pieces; the walls of the church of Cangxi Xindianzi have collapsed.
9. Moreover, so far it has been impossible to obtain information on the area of the epicentre. It is thought that the parish of Piankou in Mianyang-Beichuan has been completely destroyed. The parishes of Qingxi, Dashi, and Hengliangzi in the counties of Guangyuan and Qingchuan are considered buildings at great risk.
The diocese of Chengdu has about 100,000 Catholics.
Here is the photo spread on the destruction in the diocese of Chengdu (click on the number to see the image):