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Friday, October 21, 2016
Devastation across Asia in wake of tsunami
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¬†Many thousands have been killed and thousands more made homeless by earthquakes and tsunamis which struck coastal regions of India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia and Thailand. Massive aftershocks are still being recorded throughout the region. CAFOD has appealed to parishes across England and Wales to help its emergency work in the region. Over a million people have been affected by the tsunami. Caritas staff are reporting a death toll in the tens of thousands and rising. In Indonesia the official death toll is already over 36,000 and rising. CAFOD partners working in the Indonesian province of Aceh report horrific scenes of corpses lining the streets of the regional capital Banda Aceh. The market has been razed to the ground, the hospital destroyed and local shops are full of dead bodies as the wave struck in the morning as people were doing their daily shopping. The river brings more bodies every day. CAFOD partner Andre Sugijopranoto SJ of Jesuit Refugee Service working in the area said "Everything is lacking now, petrol is lacking. All markets are closed. Medicine is all out. There is no food." Patrick Nicholson from CAFOD said: "Our partners in the field responded immediately by providing shelter, food aid and medical help. But the scale of the disaster is unprecedented and so CAFOD partners need all the help and support that we can offer. Only a few aid agencies are allowed to work in the region in which a civil war has complicated relief efforts. In Sri Lanka, local staff members say it is the worst natural disaster in the country's history. The north eastern coast has been worst hit. Thousands have been made homeless with many houses washed away. CAFOD has already made an emergency grant of £100,000 to partners in Sri Lanka. Camps for displaced people from the civil war are now currently being inundated by large numbers of people made homeless. There is increased concern for fishing communities who live on the coastal areas. Whole villages have been wiped out. There is an urgent need in Sri Lanka for material for shelters and clothing. Medical assistance is also a priority as medics try to cope with the large number of injured. Fears are growing of the possible outbreak of disease with the large number of dead bodies. In India, Caritas staff are reporting churches full of dead bodies collected after the flood. Local workers have opened up schools and church buildings to take in people made homeless by the tidal wave. Hindus, Muslim and Christians are working side by side to recover dead bodies from the debris and arrange funerals for the victims. All faiths are helping in the effort responding to the needs of over one hundred thousand displaced people. Food is being provided at the community level. The urgent need is to provide further shelter and food aid. Coastal areas will be impossible to return to for some time. The network of international Caritas staff will be sending emergency workers to Sri Lanka, India and Indonesia to access needs and organise the relief response. Patrick Nicholson said: "With every day the scale of the devastation across Asia is becoming clearer. There are still many isolated communities in which we fear the worst but have little or no information on the number of casualties or the scale of need. The aid community needs to act now to prevent further deaths from water borne diseases that could easily take hold. "Our partners in the field responded immediately by providing shelter, food aid and medical help. But the scale of the disaster is unprecedented and so CAFOD partners need all the help and support that we can offer. This is why CAFOD has decided to ask Catholic parishes for their support." International Caritas agencies have pledged US$2 million to cover immediate needs. The Disasters Emergency Committee is coordinating an appeal for emergency relief. Please donate by telephone on 0870 60 60 900 or online at
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