SPECIAL REPORTS

Stepping into the Hurt

Rebuilding in Haiti; Earthquake in Chile; Starvation on horizon for Niger

Much of Chile lies in rubble after an 8.4-magnitude earthquake. © Flickr photo 2010

Chile Rocked by 8.8-magnitude earthquake In the early hours of Saturday, Feb. 27, as some Chileans were still enjoying nightlife moments, an incredibly expansive earthquake struck throughout the coast of the country, crumbling buildings and even a major highway. The death toll officially stands at 700 and is said to be rising.

Officially, the quake struck the epicenter of the quake was 70 miles north-east of the coastal town of Concepcion and about 200 miles southwest of the capital Santiago.

Reports say that there are 2 million people affected and 1.5 million homes and buildings destroyed or badly damaged.

The worst of the damage happened in Concepcion, where a 15-story high rise near the southern city of Concepcion collapsed; the country's major north-south highway was severed at multiple points; and the capital city's airport was closed after its terminal sustained major damage.

Chile declared six of Chile’s 15 regions “catastrophe zones”.

Pray for: Many people are able to be recovered and medical attention reaches the injured --

Haiti’s Rebuilding an Ongoing—Rains Complicate Effort Heavy rains have begun to hit Haiti, ahead of what is an expected rainy season in May. The rains created floods in southwestern Haiti, killing eight to ten and leaving another two missing.

Haiti continues to rebuild after the 7.0-earthquake that struck in mid-January; more than 1 million remain homeless. The government is putting in motion a plan to de-centralilze Port-au-Prince and settle people to once-rural areas that surround the capital. Plastic tarpaulins are furiously being dispersed in preparation for the rain.

A focus on schools has begun as classes resume.

Pray for: Children now heading back to school Permanent shelter for homeless Haiti, as a country remains resolute in its rebuilding efforts --

Niger Coup a Seen as Blessing—Fears Remain of Famine A military-led coup ousted dictator President Mamadou Tandja from Niger and with his departure, journalists and relief agencies are now speaking freely for the first time in years about an eminent food shortage in the country.

While many global players are unsure of how politics will shape up with the military having such a strong role in the government, inside the country it is a welcomed change, particularly in how those close to the food shortage battle can now openly rally support.

One of the poorest nations in the world, a leaked government report estimated that nearly half of Niger's 15 million people are facing food shortages this year because poor rainfall has thinned harvests; the same report said nearly 3 million of those people are expected to face "extreme" shortfalls.

The U.S.-funded Famine Early Warning Systems Network, which monitors food security, also predicts there will be "a serious food security emergency" in Niger this year. The number of malnourished children being admitted to feeding centers was 60 percent greater in January than the previous year, the group said. --

Giant Storm Blasts Through Much of Europe A storm that brought winds of close to 100 miles an hour has left 50 people dead and nearly million without power in a handful of major European countries, with France being the hardest hit.

Flooded streets and toppled power lines were the main result of a weather calamity being called a winter storm "Xynthia" . Falling trees took the life of a 10-year-old in Portugal; four in Germany who were in their cars; and a man in Belgium, among many others who died in the cross-hairs of the storm.

Coastal towns Charente-Maritime and Vendee in France were the hardest hit. The storm packed winds of just under 150 kilometres an hour Up to a million people were without power. The UK is on flood alert and authorities in Denmark are on standby as the storm continues to track north. Pray for: Government and agencies to work together to solve the potential food crises The many malnourished children --

Taliban Target Indians in Afghanistan A four-hour battle began Friday with a car bombing and included suicide bombers and Taliban fighters throwing grenades taking place outside an Indian-centric part of Afghanistan. Up to nine Indians, an Italian diplomat and a French film maker were among the dead. Thirty-two others were said to be hospitalized. Analysts say that the battle is the another instigation of the long-time feud between India and Pakistan. Pray for: reconciliation and for the Lord to bring peace.