Church leaders are still assessing the impact a massive earthquake in southern Mexico has had on members and Church-owned properties.
The 8.1-magnitude earthquake struck Sept. 7, causing death and widespread destruction. Hardest hit were the Mexican states of Oaxaca and Chiapas.
Some 96 people were reportedly killed in the quake, although crews are continuing to search through rubble and fallen buildings in search of missing people.
The earthquake has exacted a devastating toll on homes and businesses in southern Mexico. About 5,000 homes in Chiapas were destroyed, with another 10,000 homes destroyed or damaged in Oaxaca, according to ABC News.
While information regarding the status of members, their homes and Church-owned properties is still not available, it’s confirmed that all missionaries serving in impacted areas are accounted for and safe.
The Church released a statement about the quake a short time after the far-reaching natural catastrophe.
“Like the rest of the world, we are deeply concerned about the many natural disasters that have occurred throughout the world in recent weeks. The earthquake that struck [on Sept. 7] in Mexico affected thousands of people, and we pray for their safety and well-being.
“Two missions of the Church have been directly impacted (the mission of Mexico Tuxtla Gutierrez and the mission of Mexico Oaxaca) and the earthquake was felt throughout a much larger region.
“We have confirmed that all missionaries are safe and in good condition. The condition of other Church facilities and the impact of the earthquake on other members are not yet known at this time.”
The Mexico Area Presidency has also issued a statement of solidarity and support for those impacted by the recent earthquake:
“We acknowledge the work of those who have been given the task of serving their neighbors, as well as social organizations, assistance institutions and government agencies that carry out rescue, care and reconstruction work.
“The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is coordinating relief efforts through local leaders in the affected cities. We pray for the speedy recovery and for the comfort of those who have suffered loss.”
Home to more than 1.4 million members, Mexico has long been a power in the Church. The first missionaries arrived in 1876 and the first stake was organized almost 20 years later in Colonia Juarez in northern Mexico.
Since then, the country has enjoyed remarkable growth and development. President Gordon B. Hinckley dedicated the nation’s first temple — the Mexico City Mexico Temple — on Dec. 2, 1987. Since then, 12 more temples have been opened.
More than 2,000 units are in operation across the country and thousands of full-time missionaries are serving in Mexico’s 34 missions.