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Indian church groups join rescue, relief efforts in flooded northeast



(June 26, 2013) Church charity groups in India joined security personnel in rescue and relief work for hundreds of thousands of people affected by flash floods and massive landslides in northeastern India's Uttarakhand state. "Now they are saying the number of those killed could be more than 1,000, but, seeing the devastation, I would say it will be several thousands more," Bishop John Vadakel of Bijnor, whose diocese covers the disaster-struck area, told Catholic News Service June 25 from Bijnor, after he was stranded for two days at Srinagar because of roads blocked due to fresh landslides. Incessant rains in mid-June in the mountainous region triggered massive flash floods, and a reservoir burst. Beginning June 16, three major rivers flowing down the Himalayas gathered momentum and washed away nearly everything in their paths.
"The situation is turning bad with more rains. Rescue workers are also getting stuck. Even our people are risking their lives in trying to save others," said Bishop Vadakel.
While the evacuation has been centered around crowded pilgrim routes, Bishop Vadakel lamented that hundreds of villages had become inaccessible. "Nobody knows the fate of such remote villagers," the bishop added.
Father Pius Philip, social service director of Bijnor Diocese who had been traveling through the area, told CNS, "The situation is really awful." Although the Bijnor Diocese has only limited presence in the mountain region, he said all the 70 priests, nuns and lay church workers had been pressed into in relief work. While five church centers, including schools, were being used as relief centers with the support of Caritas India. Father Philip said other church workers were moving out to remote villages. Although the Bijnor Diocese has only limited presence in the mountain region, he said all the 70 priests, nuns and lay church workers had been pressed into in relief work. While five church centers, including schools, were being used as relief centers with the support of Caritas India.
Source: CNS





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