Baptist World Alliance
Eron Henry, Associate Director of Communications
Neville Callam, General Secretary
Phone: +1 703 790 8980
Fax: +1 703 893 5160      

May 25, 2011

For Immediate Release

Baptist church collapses after quake, killing 25

Washington (BWA)--Several Baptist World Alliance (BWA) groups are providing help after a Baptist church collapsed and killed more than two dozen persons in a village in Myanmar following a severe earthquake on March 24.


The Baptist church in Kyakuni, a mostly Lahu village in eastern Shan State, near the border with Thailand, collapsed after the 6.8 magnitude quake, leaving 25 dead and 57 injured.


The relief and development arm of the BWA sent a grant of US$10,000 and the Asia Pacific Baptist Federation, one of six regional fellowships of the BWA, sent US$5,000.


The Myanmar Baptist Convention (MBC) dispatched a two-member team to the different areas to do assessment. The MBC mobilized approximately US $11,000 from local churches for emergency relief, and aims to help more than 1,200 families or approximately 6,000 persons in 26 affected communities.


Christians in the area are mainly Baptists belonging to minority groups such as the Lahu, the Wa and the Shans.


 "There are many teenage children among the dead. The earthquake hit when they were praying," said U Kyar Khu, the head of Kyakuni village, according to the Myanmar Times. "About 200 people were in the church at the time," he said.  "Because it is difficult to reach the road, the injured people were sent to the hospital only the next morning. Although they were in pain they were mourning the dead throughout the night."


Kyakuni village, which was destroyed, can only be reached by motorbike in good weather. Extensive damage and fatalities were reported elsewhere. In the 50 most affected villages near the epicenter of the quake, more than 50 percent of buildings were severely damaged or destroyed.  


There was extensive damage to roads and bridges, and communication was disrupted. Thirty one churches and monasteries, 11 schools, and one hospital sustained severe damage.


An undetermined number of persons died as a result of the quake, but some estimates put the death toll at more than 150.


The earthquake was felt as far away as Bangkok in Thailand and Hanoi in Vietnam.