Source: Vatican Media, CBCI
During the Angelus with pilgrims in St Peter's Square today, Pope Francis prayed for victims of the flooding in the Indian state of Kerala. He said: "In recent days the inhabitants of Kerala have been harshly struck by intense rains, which have caused flooding and landslides, with heavy loss of human life, with many people missing and displaced, with extensive damage to crops and homes."
The Holy Father said he hoped that "these brothers and sisters" would always be supported by our solidarity, and by concrete support from the international community, and he expressed his closeness to the Church in Kerala, "which is at the forefront of efforts to bring aid to the population."
The relentless rains, floods and landslides since August 8 have claimed the lives of at least 190 people in southern India's Kerala state, and the figure is expected to rise as rains continue. More than 314,000 people have been moved to nearly 2,100 relief camps across the state.
Cardinal Oswald Cardinal Gracias, president of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India (CBCI), has issued the following emergency appeal:
"On behalf of the Catholic Church in India, I am making this fervent appeal to you, my brothers Bishop and to all in Church leadership, 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," Cardinal Gracias, the Archbishop of Bombay wrote in an appeal posted on the CBCI website.
The Indian government has deployed thousands of soldiers and dozens of helicopters to rescue people marooned by the worst floods since 1924 in Kerala. The onslaught of rains, floods and landslides has claimed the lives of 194 people since August 8, and the figure could rise as rains continue. State chief minister, Pinnrayi Vijayan put the death toll from floods and landslides since the start of the rainy season in June at 324. Over 314,000 people have been moved to nearly 2,100 relief camps across the state.
The weather office warned of more heavy "red" category rains in 11 districts on Saturday as tens of thousands of people were still stranded on the rooftops without food, drinking water and electricity. Rescue workers have yet to reach many flooded areas, some too narrow for boats to navigate.
"Caritas India, the Catholic Church's social arm for humanitarian aid," Cardinal Gracias wrote, "has already placed an 8-member team in different parts of Kerala to assess the needs of the local communities and help the Social Development Diocesan Partners of Kerala in conducting the relief operations." He said Caritas is supporting 24 affected dioceses with relief kits, food, drinking water, clothes, utensils and other requirements.
The president of India's Catholic bishops said it is most urgent to reach out to those who are stranded and isolated in the most remote and unreached villages. He said there also the huge need to rebuild the lives of the people and communities with rehabilitation and restoration of livelihoods in the aftermath of the floods.
Send donations to Caritas India to: Account Title CARITAS INDIA, SB Account number: 0153053000007238, Bank name: The South Indian Bank Ltd, IFSC Code: SIBL0000153, 22 REGAL BUILDING, CONNAUGHT PLACE, NEW DELHI - 110001
In a separate appeal, Cardinal Gracias has called on all the faithful, churches, convents and other institutions of his Bombay Archdiocese to be "generous" and " join in the relief efforts".
"The Archdiocese of Bombay cannot stay silent while our brothers and sisters are going through harrowing times in Kerala," the cardinal wrote in an appeal posted on August 18 on the archdiocesan website: http://archdioceseofbombay.org/news/national/officialKerala
He particularly urged for prayers for the victims, their families and the rescue teams.
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