Friday, March 5, 2010

Earthquake Jailbreak

Earthquake jailbreaks are not just in the Book of Acts.

In Acts 16: 16-40, Paul and Silas are imprisoned in Philippi by Roman authorities after Paul interferes with a profitable fortunetelling scheme and the fortuneteller's handlers complain. Shortly after midnight, an earthquake strikes, giving Paul and Silas a chance to walk out. They refuse - and make a convert of the jailer, who might have had to commit suicide had he presided over an escape.

Last week, in Chile, over 200 inmates in the town of Chillan fled their prison after the massive earthquake toppled a wall. Of the 269 inmates who escaped, about 60 were immediately recaptured. The 600 inmates still in custody were transferred to a prison in the Concepcion, the region's main city.

One wonders whether anyone has attempted a comparative study of what happens to the human capacity to incarcerate when the natural world implodes. New Orleans, in September 2005, would have to be the first case study. What happened there, in the havoc wrought by Hurricane Katrina?

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