Indian Catholic News

Indian bishops appeal to help flood-affected in Kerala

The monsoon season since June has already claimed more than 200 people, taking the total death toll to more than 300.

 
Kerala Rain: Over 90 people have been killed since heavy rains pounded Kerala. (Photo credit: NDTV)
New Delhi: 

Indian bishops have appealed to Christians across the country come together to help the millions of people stranded because of the unprecedented and devastating flood in Kerala.

“We are distressed by the extensive damage to the life and property through a disaster of this magnitude,” Cardinal Oswald Gracias, president of the Bishops Conference of India (CBCI) said in a statement.

Cardinal Gracias termed the disaster as national calamity and said there was “a strong urgency to reach out to more communities who are stranded and isolated in the most remote and unreached villages.”

The uninterrupted rains and flood on Aug. 15 and 16 alone claimed 106 lives and displaced at least a million people. Unofficial figures put the death toll at 116.

The monsoon season since June has already claimed more than 200 people, taking the total death toll to more than 300.

Cities and towns 12 of the 14 districts in the state are inundated and power lines in most part of Ernakulam, Pathanamthitta and Thrissur districts are also snapped to avoid electrocution as power transformers came under water.

The road, rail and air traffic into the state is paralyzed in the affected districts forcing the people to stay put in their homes if water does not enter or move to relief camps.

The government is also airdropping food and water in many affected areas as some 200,000 people are in 1,155 relief camps.

Cardinal Gracias bishops and all the leadership of churches “to come together in solidarity and encourage the community of faithful, institutions and people of goodwill to contribute generously to this humanitarian call and express our solidarity at this crucial moment”.

Father George Vettikattil, who directs Kerala Social Service Forum that oversees the Catholic Church's rescue and relief operations said a challenged before rescue teams are the inability to reach the stranded people.

Even as 41 dioceses in the state opened Churches, Church run schools, pastoral centers and other buildings for the help of the suffering humanity, he told ucanws.com, “we are not able to do much, as flood blocked our movements”.

“We have appealed the fishing community in Trivandram to reach to the affected areas and hundreds of fishermen have now joined the rescue operation with their fishing boats,” he explained.

The director of Caritas India, the Catholic Church’s social arm for humanitarian aid Father Paul Moonjeli described the situation as an “unimaginable tragedy”.

The Church is making “every effort to help the flood torn Kerala state at this hour of one of the worst humanitarian crisis the country has ever seen,” he told ucanews.com

Some 1,500 people were stranded inside Divine Retreat Center in Muringoor, its director Father George Panackal said in a distress message. The stranded included those attending retreats and another 350 mentally challenged persons under the center’s care.

“We have no food and water in the past couple of days,” said Francis D’Souza, one of the officials of the retreat center on Aug.17.

The people have been moved to the fourth and fifth floors of the seven storied building as first three floors are flooded.

Several churches in Ernakulam, Pathanmthitta and Thrissur districts are under water, Father Vettikattil, added.

People are also making distress calls with the help of media outlets informing about their location and plight, helping the authorities to reach them.


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