Source: Vatican Media/FB
As floods caused by heavy monsoon rains continue to engulf vast areas of southern and western India, Church agencies are joining in rescue and relief efforts. At least 200 people have died in floods and landslides following incessant rains that have particularly hit Kerala, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Gujarat states. More than 1.2 million have been affected.
Meanwhile, heavy downpours lashed Uttarakhand and Jammu leaving nine people dead in landslides. Five people were killed in West Bengal and Odisha states in rain-related incidents on Monday.
Kerala, where unprecedented rain and floods killed 480 people last August, is the worst-hit area. The state's death toll stood at 85 on Monday, while in Karnataka, Gujarat and Maharashtra, 116 people have lost their lives.
About 250,000 people have been displaced in Kerala and are living in 1,600 relief camps that include church-run schools, hostels and churches.
Father George Vettikattil, who heads the Kerala Social Service Forum that coordinates the Kerala Social Service Societies of the 32 dioceses of southern India's Kerala state, said Catholic Church agencies are accommodating about 45,000 people in 300 church institutions being used as relief camps. "We have opened all our institutions to accommodate needy people in temporary and safe accommodation," he said.
Currently, the Church is running more than 1,000 relief camps where about 50,000 people are taken care of by the Social Service Societies. They are providing both food and other aid to all the affected people regardless of their religion.Fr George said the Catholic fishing communities are assisting with their boats. During the floods last August, they rescued 65,000 from the floods. In the current crisis, they have been placed in different locations to help out in rescue operations.
Elsewhere in Asia, Myanmar and eastern China have also been hit by floods.
Vatican Secretary of State, Card. Pietro Parolin has sent a telegram to local authorities in India, expressing the condolence of Pope Francis for the flood victims.
Pope Francis has expressed his condolence for the victims of the floods and mudslides. In a message sent by Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, he said: "Deeply saddened to learn of the tragic loss of life in the monsoons of recent days in Kerala, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Gujarat, and mindful of all those who have lost homes and livelihood, His Holiness Pope Francis sends his heartfelt condolences to the relatives of the deceased and injured... The Pope "prays for the relief efforts underway, and upon the nation, he willingly invokes the divine blessings of strength and perseverance," Cardinal Parolin wrote.
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