Hindu Radicals Savagely Beat Indian Pastor; He Vows to Continue Serving Jesus Despite Persecution

A radical Hindu mob beat a Christian pastor and his friend on their way to prayer in an Indian village. The pastor has nevertheless vowed to remain strong in his commitment to follow Jesus Christ.

“No matter what the cost is, for following Jesus and serving him, I will live for Him alone,” said pastor Gunsingh, according to International Christian Concern.

ICC, which reports on the persecution of believers around the world, noted that Gunsingh and his friend, Mansingh, were on their way to host prayer services when as many as 25 Hindu radicals stopped them.

“They asked us where we were going … when I told them that I was going to conduct [a] prayer meeting in the village, that’s when they got furious and started to beat us with sticks and stones,” the pastor said.

“Someone from the back hit me hard on my head; I fell to the ground, even before I could get up, each one [took] turns to hit me and Mansingh using the wooden stubs, while others used stones.”

ICC, which reports on the persecution of believers around the world, noted that Gunsingh and his friend, Mansingh, were on their way to host prayer services when as many as 25 Hindu radicals stopped them.

“They asked us where we were going … when I told them that I was going to conduct [a] prayer meeting in the village, that’s when they got furious and started to beat us with sticks and stones,” the pastor said.

“Someone from the back hit me hard on my head; I fell to the ground, even before I could get up, each one [took] turns to hit me and Mansingh using the wooden stubs, while others used stones.”

Gunsingh said that his eye was bloodied from the blows, while Mansingh lost complete hearing in one ear.

“Mansingh [and I] were so helpless even to protect ourselves in defense from the hands of these Hindu radicals,” the pastor said.

The radicals further damaged the Christians’ motorbike and emptied the gas tank, making it difficult for them to seek help.

The two men walked back home by themselves, pushing the damaged motorbike, but decided against reporting the incident to police.

“I knew what [would] happen if I [went] to police station, they would further harass me and Mansingh for the kind of work that I was involved in,” the pastor said, pointing to other cases of persecution of Christians in India.

The attack has apparently scared Christians in the region, with more than 70 believers from Kadhalkogaom halting their participation at Christian gatherings of any kind.

Indian pastors have been beaten and even murdered on a number of occasions before. CCTV footage from July captured two youths on a motorcycle shooting dead 50-year-old pastor Sultan Masih as he was standing outside his Temple of God Church near Ludhiana.

The killing prompted protests from relatives of the victim, who took to the streets to demand a response from police officials.

Besides attacks by radicals, Christians have also suffered due to controversial anti-conversion bills. An anonymous local pastor in Ranchi told ICC in August that new restrictions in the state of Jharkhand will stop Christian witness and “ruin the lives of people.”

“The BJP, having the power both at the national level and the state, wants to implement its Hindutva ideology. This bill will further divide the people of Jharkhand, particularly divide the tribal people who lived in unity for ages,” the pastor added, referring to the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party.

Source: ChristianPost.com

Evangelical Church Threatened With Being Set on Fire Amid LGBT Outrage at Marriage Billboard

A pastor at an evangelical church in Brisbane, Australia, has said the church has received serious threats online, including one vowing to burn it down, after it posted a billboard defending the definition of marriage as a union between one man and one woman.

“On Facebook, a lot of the stuff has been quite vicious at times,” Bellbowrie Community Church senior pastor John Gill told the Daily Mail Australia on Tuesday.

“I mean quite physically threatening. That’s been scary for some in the church,” he added.

“One of the comments, for example, was a suggestion that people bring petrol down and set the church on fire.”

The church attracted controversy from LGBT activists after it displayed a billboard earlier in September reading “God designed marriage between a man and a woman.”

Others who took to Facebook to critisize the church’s stance wrote one-star reviews, which have since been removed. One comment read: “Hopefully there are churches in the area that cater to ALL Christians and not just the ones who fit in the narrow minded view of this ‘Church of God.’ I’m sure Christ would be very disappointed in your view of Christianity.”

Another woman argued, according to The Courier-Mail: “A closed-minded group which overtly discriminates against members of our valued community and their (very reasonable) quest for marriage equality.”

Australia is engaging in serious debates on marriage in the face of a postal plebiscite vote on whether gay couples should be included in the definition.

The Roman Catholic Church along with evangelical churches such as Hillsong have all come out in calling on Australians to vote no on redefining marriage.

Gill said that the abuse his church has received stirs up fears that freedom of religion will be challenged if gay marriage is legalized.

“At the moment, we know we have that freedom but certainly down the track, we have serious concerns about whether we’d continue to have that freedom or not,” the pastor warned, adding that freedom of speech was important to all Australians. “This means gay people are entitled to speak their minds, and anybody who does not agree with their views should still respect them and not abuse them for expressing their opinions.”

The debate has affected prominent Australian figures and celebrities, including Margaret Court, a tennis legend-turned-Pentecostal pastor, who was recently dumped by her local tennis club because of her views opposing gay marriage.

“I think it’s sad. You don’t have the freedom of speech today to really defend yourself,” Court said after being dumped by the Cottesloe Tennis Club.

“It’s a sad day for our nation when it comes to that.”

Source: Christianpost.com

Time Is Running Out: Haley Says US Prepared to Destroy N Korea

WASHINGTON – Top officials in the Trump administration are warning North Korea: time is running out.

The threat of a North Korean nuclear attack is growing after the regime launched another missile Friday, so now the U.S. is getting ready to play hardball.

In other words, the United States may be forced to launch a strike against the North’s nuclear program, to defend the U.S. and its allies with military action.

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley told CNN this weekend she’s comfortable handing over the situation to Defense Secretary James Mattis and the Pentagon.

“We have pretty much exhausted all the things we could do at the Security Council,” she said. “I’m perfectly happy kicking this over to General Mattis because he has plenty of military options.”

This comes as about 200 world leaders, including President Trump, head to New York for the U.N.’s annual General Assembly.

On Friday, North Korea launched a missile over Japan into the Pacific Ocean, defying new U.N. sanctions that ban some of its key exports and cap its imports of crude oil.

Asked about Trump’s remark that the U.S. could respond to North Korea with “fire and fury,” Haley said it was not an empty threat.

“If North Korea keeps on with this reckless behavior, if the United States has to defend itself, or defend its allies in any way, North Korea will be destroyed,” she told CNN.

National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster echoed her sentiments telling Fox News it’s time to stop kicking the can down the road because the U.S. is running out of road.

“This regime is so close now to threatening the United States and others with a nuclear weapon, that we really have to move with a great sense of urgency on sanctions, on diplomacy and preparing, if necessary, a military option,” he said.

To add to the tension, there’s now a report North Korea is developing a nuclear-powered submarine.

The Washington Times quotes a Japanese report that the vessel could potentially be used to launch a ballistic missile into international waters and threaten Japanese, South Korean and U.S. missile defenses.

Source: CBN.com

The Final Work of Nabeel Qureshi, Sharing the Gospel Right till the Very End

Christians around the world were saddened this weekend to learn about the death of Christian thinker and apologist Nabeel Qureshi at the young age of 34.

Nabeel’s story resonated with so many as he shared his journey from Islam to Christianity. He summed up his life story in a tweet from 2014, pinned to the top of his Twitter page.

It simply says this: “I left Islam because I studied Muhammad’s life. I accepted the Gospel because I studied Jesus’ life. #MyStory #SeekingAllahFindingJesus”

Vlog 43 – Love and Peace are our Motivationhttps://youtu.be/zU9fu-lC3fY

Posted by Nabeel Qureshi on Saturday, September 9, 2017

Even as time was running out for him, Nabeel wanted to do everything he could to reach the world with the love of Jesus.

So he used his book, Seeking Allah Finding Jesus, as an outline for a final video teaching series, posting the videos on YouTube and Twitter as a final testimony for the world.


n his introductory YouTube post this summer, he described his goal as “providing brief insights into ministering to Muslims as well as responding to the most common Muslim objections to Christianity. It is designed for Christians and Muslims alike. I pray it will be encouraging and edifying for you!”

Nabeel’s vision for reaching Muslims and the entire world for Jesus lives on through these videos. You can watch them below:

In the video series, Nabeel and his friend David Wood who led him to Christ, covered some of the book’s highlights, like “The Importance of Relationships in Religious Dialogue.”

“If we can choose any approach as the best possible approach it would be building up a friendship over time,” Wood says.

He encourages believers who share their faith with Muslims not to let their friendships with them crumble because of heated arguments they may have about their faiths.

“If you’re talking about people’s most heart-felt beliefs, if you’re seriously talking and not just avoiding things, If you’re actually communicating your views on these different topics and you disagree, that can lead to some very heated exchanges,” Wood explains. “If you have a friendship that can endure that, then you can bring those things up.”

Nabeel said while he may have been angry with David for challenging his faith, he respected him.

“I realized that his faith was important to him and my faith was important to me,” Nabeel said in the video.


Nabeel and David also look at the different approaches to ministering to Muslims.

“If you want to reach out to Muslims consider who God has made you to be. Don’t be daunted by this work. It’s not about being a genius, it’s not about being the most hospitable person in the world. It’s about being humble in your heart,” Nabeel explained. “If I suggest,  you know, something coming into this, it’s you know back and forth the reasons why you are a Christian and let those be good reasons.”

David and Nabeel also go in depth into the different types of Muslims and the common objections Muslims have for Christianity and how to refute them.

Source: CBN.com

Hurricane Maria Now a Monster Category 5 on Track to Crush Puerto Rico

More hurricanes are churning through the Atlantic Ocean on a possible collision course with U.S. territory.

Hurricane Maria strengthened into a dangerous Category 5 storm Monday with winds up to 160 miles per hour.

Maria is bearing down on the Caribbean. It’s on course to pass close to several islands that were devastated by Hurricane Irma, including Barbuda and St. Martin’s.

Then it’s expected to target the U.S. Virgin Islands Tuesday night before slamming into Puerto Rico with a devastating direct hit on Wednesday, followed by the Dominican Republic and Haiti.

“This storm promises to be catastrophic for our island,” Ernesto Morales with the U.S. National Weather Service in San Juan said. “All of Puerto Rico will experience hurricane force winds.”

And Hurricane Jose is a Category 1 storm that could hit the U.S. East Coast, somewhere from the mid-Atlantic to the Northeast, with heavy winds and rain.

CBN’s Operation Blessing is still at work helping victims of Hurricanes Irma and Harvey.

The ministry has helped people in more than 28 cities in Texas and Florida with relief supplies like food and water, and volunteers to help clean up the damage.

They also bring spiritual aid and comfort to the victims.

So far, Operation Blessing has mobilized more than 5,000 volunteers in Texas alone.

Source: CBN.com

Christian Florist: Gay Couples Have ‘Every Right to Live the Way They Believe,’ Christians Want the Same Freedom

Colorado baker Jack Phillips and and Washington florist Barronelle Stutzman recently joined other Christian business owners and revealed their major concerns, including death threats and potential loss of their life’s work, as they battle against lawsuits from same-sex couples.

Gay couples have “every right to live the way they believe,” said Stutzman last week during a religious liberty panel organized by The Heritage Foundation, but added that Christian business owners are also asking for the same freedom.

Stutzman, who lost a court case earlier this year after she declined to provide flowers for a gay couple’s wedding and has appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, said she would still embrace her long-time gay patron, Rob Ingersoll, who sued her.

“I’d be so excited if Rob came into my store,” an emotional Stutzman said when asked by The Heritage Foundation moderator Ryan T. Anderson how she would respond to Ingersoll if he were to come back to her flower shop.

“I would wait on him another 10 years. I would hug him and catch up on his life. He is missed,” she added.

Stutzman revealed that she stands in danger of losing her entire life savings if she loses her Supreme Court battle against gay couple Ingersoll and Curt Freed, who sued her in 2013.

Phillips, a Denver-area bakery owner who like others on the panel said that he still serves gay customers but does not serve gay weddings, explained that he has received some serious death threats that have left him quite shaken.

“Somebody called one day to say that he was on his way and he was going to come shoot me in the head,” recalled Phillips, who lost a court case after he turned down a request for a wedding cake from a same-sex couple in 2012.

He said that his great concern was for his daughter and her 4-year-old child, whom he called, urging them to stay locked indoors until police took care of the situation.

Police officers were unable to trace the phone call, and the baker said that that was “the way things went for weeks.”

Although it was not his job, he started taking the phone calls at his Masterpiece Cakeshop, fearful of other death threats.

Phillips explained that much like Stutzman, his business is in danger unless he wins his upcoming Supreme Court case. The high court agreed in June to hear his appeal. Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission is a major religious liberty case that is being closely watched by both sides of the same-sex marriage debate.

Blaine Adamson, owner of t-shirt company Hands On Originals in Lexington, Ky., recently won in the Kentucky Court of Appeals, which allowed him to refer gay pride t-shirts to another vendor.

When asked what advice he would give other business owners, Adamson said:

“We all at some point in our lives will find ourselves at crossroads, where we have an issue of conscience, where we know there’s something that we need to do. But whether it’s out of fear or because it’s the easy road, we decide to go against our conscience.

“When we make that choice, we lose something — in my case, what would have been freedom. We can’t just kick the can for the next generation.”

Carl and Angel Larsen of Telescope Media Group, who refuse to use their video and film production company to document gay weddings, explained that they want to use their talents to capture truth.

“For us as storytellers, we want to tell the truth as we see it through the Bible. From the beginning to the very end,” Carl Larsen said, conveying their belief that marriage is between one man and one woman.

The Christian business owners on the panel emphasized on a number of occasions that they are not discriminating against gay people, but want to be afforded the freedom to live out their beliefs.

Stutzman said at the conclusion of the hour-long panel:

“If we lose this case, we lose everything. We lose our business, our retirement, our life savings, everything we’ve worked for for our kids and grandkids, because the attorney fees are going to be well over seven figures.

“Our employees lose their job, the city loses its taxes, our suppliers lose our business, simply because we don’t have the same idea of marriage that Curt and Rob have.”

Stutzman expressed that when her grandchildren ask her what happened to her flower shop, or the Christian faith, she doesn’t want to say “I did nothing.”

Source: CBN.com

Virginia Chick-fil-A Opens Doors on Sunday So Displaced Church Can Worship

Since 1946, fast food restaurant chain Chick-fil-A has shuttered its stores each Sunday to allow employees “to rest and worship if they choose.” Last Sunday, however, a Chick-fil-A restaurant in Henrico, Virginia, was open for business but it wasn’t the kind that involved the sale of chicken and biscuits.

White Oak Community Church, which usually holds services at the Econo Lodge on Williamsburg Road in Sandston, suddenly learned on Sept. 3, that they could no longer use the hotel’s ballroom for worship.

“Good morning White Oak family. I’m going to cut right to the chase. Upon arriving to our current worship location we found that the building has signs on the door. The only legal use of any of the spaces are for the Econo lodge to conduct business. We obviously do not have church this morning. We have a team of people who are currently working to move our equipment out of that space,” the church leadership revealed in a worried note to congregants on Facebook.

“We will be working diligently this week to find a new worship location and we will keep you updated. I am so sorry for the inconvenience to you all this morning. I am so grateful for your continued support as God continues to build His kingdom and Sandston. Know that this is only a minor setback. Often God sandblasted us out of places in order for us to see the next great thing that he has for His church. A little frustrated this morning, but excited for what God has for our future!” it ended.

Thankfully for the church, however, one of the church’s board members happened to be a Chick-fil-A employee, according to WTVR. At an emergency meeting the same day the church found itself without a home, the Chick-fil-A employee called her boss and explained her church’s worship struggles. And he agreed to let them use the restaurant to praise the Lord.

The Christian Post contacted Chick-fil-A about the decision Wednesday morning and a response is still pending.

The church’s pastor, Dave Wilde, noted in the WTVR report how thankful he was to Chick-fil-A for hosting them.

“I did want to send a huge thank you to Greg Williams and Chick-fil-A for graciously agreeing to host us next Sunday,” Wilde said. “No they are not serving food … You cannot order chicken biscuits at Chick-fil-A next Sunday.”

Tricia Turpin Goza, who attended the service at Chick-fil-A, told the network that about 30 people attended the service at the restaurant and she was thankful they were able to worship on Sunday.

“I think it’s awesome that the Chick-fil-A in White Oak is opening its doors on a Sunday to allow a temporarily displaced White Oak Community Church to hold service,” Goza said.

Chick-fil-A’s decision to remain closed on Sunday was influenced by Southern Baptist roots of the company’s founder, Truett Cathy.

“Our founder, Truett Cathy, made the decision to close on Sundays in 1946 when he opened his first restaurant in Hapeville, Georgia. Having worked seven days a week in restaurants open 24 hours, Truett saw the importance of closing on Sundays so that he and his employees could set aside one day to rest and worship if they choose — a practice we uphold today,” the company explains on its website.

Source: CBN.com

Facing Irma with Prayer: Trump Team Prayed as Florida Governor Called Prayer ‘First Resort’

Hurricane Irma set records before downgrading to a Category 2 with winds weakening to 100 mph when it crossed over the Tampa-St.Petersburg region. Before hitting Florida, it brutalized the Caribbean as a Category 5 and washed over the Florida Keys as a Category 4 hurricane.
As it moved north, Irma’s enormous size lashed Florida from coast to coast, stretching out an amazing 415 miles across, but it weakened Monday to a tropical storm with life-threatening storm surges, dangerous wind and heavy rains.
The once-Category 5 storm had lost some of its oomph approaching the U.S. mainland after running into the northern Cuba coast. Its winds dropped to a potent 115 mph when it made its second landfall on Marco Island, down from its 185 mph peak.
Overall, the storm submerged streets in Florida, caused power outages for millions and snapped huge construction cranes in Miami.
But faith was on display as the storm was threatening into Florida.

President Donald Trump bowed in prayer with his Cabinet as Vice President Mike Pence opened an emergency planning meeting with prayer at Camp David on Saturday.

Earlier, the White House had released this statement from President Trump:

“The President and his Cabinet, meeting at Camp David, continue to receive regular updates on Hurricanes Irma and Jose. FEMA is leading the Federal effort to coordinate support to the impacted States and U.S. Territories. The President and First Lady are keeping all the people impacted by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma in their thoughts and prayers and urge everyone to listen to and follow the safety instructions of local authorities.”

Trump also called on everyone in the storm’s path to count their lives greater than their possessions and “get out of its way.” He said property can be replaced, but people can’t, saying all of America grieves for those who have died.

Meanwhile, some Florida residents prayed and sang “The Great I Am” on the beaches as Irma approached.

And as the threat of storm surge threatened the state, for the Keys all the way up through Tampa, Florida’s Governor Rick Scott called for prayer.

“I don’t see prayer as a last resort, it should always be a first resort,” said Florida Governor Rick Scott. “Pray, pray for everybody in Florida,” he said on Fox News Sunday.

Weekend Coverage Below:

Florida Power & Light says it will be weeks, not days, before electricity is fully restored because of the damage being done by Irma.

Nearly 7 million homes and businesses lost power as Irma climbed the Florida mainland.

As Irma made its way through the Florida region storm surge was a big concern. A storm surge is when waters from the ocean and nearby bodies of water are pushed onto dry land.

In Miami, there were reports of waist-deep water. Nearly two feet of water have flooded the streets in the Brickell area.

The Weather Channel’s Mike Seidel tweeted this video of a storm surge there.

“It’s bad it’s nasty here. We’re not even getting the direct hit,” Senator Marco Rubio, R-FL, told Fox News.

The storm officially made landfall in the Florida Keys a little after 9 am. In addition to the storm surge of more than 10 feet there, the chain of islands is still being hit by extremely strong winds.

Meanwhile, President Trump approved Disaster Declaration for Florida and Puerto Rico and made additional assistance available for the U.S. Virgin Islands.

A last minute shift west sent Hurricane Irma heading towards the Tampa Bay and St. Pete area.

Authorities warned nearly seven million people in the Southeast to evacuate. That number included 6.4 million in Florida alone.

Irma ran along the northern coast of Cuba Saturday, downing power lines and trees and blocking roads.

Thousands of people in the Caribbean raced to find shelter. Twenty-four people lost their lives in the storm as it barrelled through that region.

As Irma neared south Florida, Gov. Rick Scott was warning people to follow evacuation orders. More than 6 million people were warned to leave their homes, and more than 160,000 people took refuge in emergency shelters.

CBN Reporter Gary Lane talks with contributor Chuck Holton about the situation in the shelters.

Gov. Scott added that those who failed to leave the state Friday night would have to ride out the storm at their own risk.

“It’s going to be very difficult to survive this if you’re in the Keys,” he warned during a Saturday morning interview with The Weather Channel. “I’m begging you to get out.”

Taking his own advice, Scott and his family evacuated their beachside mansion along the Gulf Coast.

Hundreds of thousands of Floridians have fled the state, clogging its major highways, but the governor says traffic officials decided not to reverse the direction of southbound lanes because gas and supplies must still move south. Saturday afternoon, officials allowed motorists to use emergency lanes to speed up the pace.

Scott is stressing the powerful storm could be a historic disaster.

“Remember Hurricane Andrew is one of the worst storms in the history of Florida. This storm is much worse,” Scott said.

Federal Emergency Management Agency chief Brock Long has this advice for people in Irma’s path: “Get out” now!

Georgia’s Gov. Nathan Deal is urging more than half a million state coastal residents to evacuate before Irma hits.

Irma is the strongest hurricane ever recorded in the Atlantic Ocean.

When it was still packing 185-175 mile per hour winds, it devastated small northern Caribbean islands like Saint Martin and Barbuda.

Here’s what Irma did to St. Martin. This amazing footage from the storm shows residents trying to rescue people trapped in a flipped-over bus. It comes about halfway through:

Gaston Brown, prime minister of Antigua and Barbuda, said the country has been decimated.

“It was the worst time in all my life. I would not like to see a hurricane like this again,” one island resident said.

“We were praying the whole time,” one island visitor said, standing next to her injured friend in the hospital.

In Puerto Rico, Irma left nearly a million people without power and it could be four to six months in some areas before its restored.

And here in the U.S., the National Weather Service warns that some “locations hit by Irma could be uninhabitable for weeks or months” due to powerful winds, and that “structural damage to buildings, with many washing away” is possible in some coastal areas.

RESOURCE: Disaster Readiness Guide

Florida is the main state in Irma’s path where huge numbers of people are evacuating and getting ready for the monster storm.

And CBN’s Operation Blessing has been stocking up for its relief and humanitarian aid as well.

OB already has dozens of tractor trailer loads of water and food at its warehouse in Ocala, Florida, and has been in contact with Florida pastors they’ve worked with over the years as it prepares to help those who will need it in Irma’s aftermath.

Meanwhile, Operation Blessing continues to aid the flooded residents in Harvey’s aftermath in Texas.

Source: CBN.com

Surveying the Damage: Irma’s Destruction Leaves 7M Floridians in the Dark

Irma is now downgraded to a tropical storm but not before taking at least 40 lives and carving a 500 mile path of destruction starting in the Caribbean, through the Florida Keys into south Florida and further north. Monday it stormed into northern Florida working its way into Georgia, Alabama. It had maximum sustained winds at 60 mph but unleashed more damage with storm surge flooding.

Irma hit Florida on Sunday as a powerful Category 4 hurricane, ripping off roofs, flooding streets and has now knocked out power to roughly 7 million homes and businesses.
“The forecast track takes the center then into Georgia tomorrow and ultimately with the system weakening, becoming a tropical depression by Tuesday,” Ed Rappaport of the National Hurricane Center said.
But behind Irma was a trail of destruction. Miami escaped Irma’s center but was still hammered by flooding and high winds. Gusts approached 100 miles per hour.
Winds were so strong in Miami that at least three construction cranes crashed into buildings.
The storm even produced some tornadoes.
And in cities across Southern Florida, a storm surge turned roads into rivers.
Irma caused one of the largest U.S. evacuations ever, with nearly 7 million people in the Southeast warned to evacuate, including 6.4 million in Florida alone. About 220,000 of those people have ended up in shelters.
More than 6.5 million homes and businesses across Florida lost power, and utility officials say it will take weeks to restore electricity to everyone.
President Trump approved a disaster declaration for Florida, opening the way for federal aid.
A tropical storm warning was issued for the first time ever in Atlanta, where many schools canceled classes because of the storm.
In parts of the Virgin Islands, Irma left close to total devastation.
In Havana, sea water submerged several blocks from the coast, leaving an entire neighborhood underwater, while the whole city was without electricity.
Cuban officials say at least 10 people were killed by the storm there.
Irma was once the most powerful hurricane ever recorded in the open Atlantic, a Category 5 with a peak wind speed of 185 mph.
While the Florida Keys took a direct hit, and while the rest  of the state saw plenty of damage, Florida was shown some mercy with the winds somewhat diminished before landfall.
Source: CBN.com

Mexico Rocked by Biggest Quake in Century, at Least 60 Killed

MEXICO CITY (AP) – One of the most powerful earthquakes ever recorded in Mexico struck off the country’s southern coast, toppling hundreds of buildings and sending panicked people fleeing into the streets in the middle of the night. At least 60 people were reported dead.

The quake that hit minutes before midnight Thursday was strong enough to cause buildings to sway violently in the capital city more than 650 miles (1,000 kilometers) away. As beds banged against walls, people still wearing pajamas ran out of their homes and gathered in frightened groups.

Rodrigo Soberanes, who lives near San Cristobal de las Casas in Chiapas, the state nearest the epicenter, said his house “moved like chewing gum.”

The furious shaking created a second national emergency for Mexican agencies already bracing for Hurricane Katia on the other side of the country. The system was expected to strike the Gulf coast in the state of Veracruz late Friday or early Saturday as a Category 2 storm that could bring life-threatening floods.

The head of Mexico’s civil defense agency confirmed the deaths of 45 people in the southern state of Oaxaca. Another 12 people died in Chiapas and three more in the Gulf coast state of Tabasco.

The worst-hit city appeared to be Juchitan, on the narrow waist of Oaxaca known as the Isthmus. About half of the city hall collapsed in a pile of rubble, and streets were littered with the debris of ruined houses.

Mexico’s capital escaped major damage, but the quake terrified sleeping residents, many of whom still remember the catastrophic 1985 earthquake that killed thousands and devastated large parts of the city.

Families were jerked awake by the grating howl of the capital’s seismic alarm. Some shouted as they dashed out of rocking apartment buildings. Even the iconic Angel of Independence Monument swayed as the quake’s waves rolled through the city’s soft soil.

Elsewhere, the extent of destruction was still emerging. Hundreds of buildings collapsed or were damaged, power was cut at least briefly to more than 1.8 million people and authorities closed schools Friday in at least 11 states to check them for safety.

The earthquake’s impact was blunted somewhat by the fact that it was centered 100 miles offshore. It hit off Chiapas’ Pacific coast, near the Guatemalan border with a magnitude of 8.1 -equal to Mexico’s strongest quake of the past century. It was slightly stronger than the 1985 quake, the U.S. Geological Survey said.

The epicenter was in a seismic hotspot in the Pacific where one tectonic plate dives under another. These subduction zones are responsible for producing some of the biggest quakes in history, including the 2011 Fukushima disaster and the 2004 Sumatra quake that spawned a deadly tsunami.

The quake struck at 11:49 p.m. Thursday (12:49 a.m. EDT; 4:49 a.m. GMT Friday). Its epicenter was 102 miles (165 kilometers) west of Tapachula in Chiapas, with a depth of 43.3 miles (69.7 kilometers), the USGS said.

Dozens of strong aftershocks rattled the region in the following hours.

Three people were killed in San Cristobal, including two women who died when a house and a wall collapsed, Chiapas Gov. Manuel Velasco said.

“There is damage to hospitals that have lost energy,” he said. “Homes, schools and hospitals have been damaged.”

In Tabasco, one child died when a wall collapsed, and an infant died in a children’s hospital when the facility lost electricity, cutting off the ventilator, Gov. Arturo Nunez said.

The quake triggered tsunami warnings and some tall waves, but there was no major damage from the sea. Authorities briefly evacuated a few residents of coastal Tonala and Puerto Madero because of the warning.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center reported waves of 3.3 feet (1 meter) above the tide level off Salina Cruz, Mexico. Smaller tsunami waves were observed on the coast or measured by ocean gauges elsewhere.

In neighboring Guatemala, President Jimmy Morales appeared on national television to call for calm while emergency crews surveyed damage. Officials later said only four people had been injured and several dozen homes damaged.

The quake occurred near the point of collision between three tectonic plates, the Cocos, the Caribbean and the North American.

The area has seen at least six other quakes of magnitude 7.0 or greater since 1900. Three of those occurred within a nerve-wracking nine-month span in 1902-1903, according to Mexico’s National Seismological Service.

Scientists were still reviewing data, but a preliminary analysis indicated the quake was triggered by the sudden breaking or bending of the Cocos plate, which dives beneath Mexico. That type of process does not happen often in subduction zones. Usually, big quakes in subduction zones occur along the boundary between the sinking slab and the overriding crust.

“It’s unusual, but it’s not unheard of,” said seismologist Susan Hough of the USGS, describing how stresses on the seafloor can produce big earthquakes.

The new quake matched the force of a magnitude 8.1 quake that hit the country on June 3, 1932, roughly 300 miles (500 kilometers) west of Mexico City.

A study by the seismological service concluded that that quake killed about 400 people and caused severe damage around the port of Manzanillo. A powerful aftershock that hit 19 days later caused a tsunami that devastated 15 miles (25 kilometers) of coastline, killing 75 people.

Source: CBN.com