Monday, February 21, 2005

Update 1

GIANT WAVES FROM THE TSUNAMI KILLS THOUSANDS IN THE EASTERN COAST OF INDIA

- Churches responding with vigour

UELCI’S RESPONSE TO THE SITUATION:

An earthquake measuring 8.9 on the Richter scale hit Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Andaman and Nicobar Islands and the eastern coast of India. The Giant waves that followed the earthquake, simply engulfed and sucked into the sea people, property and infrastructure. This was the largest killer Tsunami in 40 years. The Press Trust of India reports that nearly 190 people were killed when huge tidal waves triggered by tremors hit coastal areas in Cuddalore district of Tamil Nadu 26th December morning. The tidal waves swept away the houses and destroyed the boats killing nearly 2000 people, District Collector Gagandeep Singh Bedi, said. Right from the morning, high tides lashed the coast, he added. According to the reports, the affected villages were Sothukuppam, Sonankuppam, Devanampattinam and Modasalodai. As per the information received as on the evening of the 26th December, the following details have been received regarding the number of people who has lost their lives from the following places:

District No. of people died Remarks

Nagapattinam 500 most of them were fishermen
Kanchipuram 50
Kanyakumari 20
Pondicherry 100 neighbouring Union Territory

In neighbouring Andhra Pradesh, the following places have been seriously affected: Machilipatnam, Visakhapatnam, Nellore and Srikakulam. Helicopters had been pressed into service to locate the dead or any possible survivor. The Kerala state has also reported deaths.
The death toll has been rising as more reports of are being reported. Both Central and State governments have been involved in relief and other operations. They have announced compensation for the victims.

The Churches received the event with shock and despair. This is happening just after Christmas. The festivities have now given way to interventions of action and prayers for the victims. Tamil Evangelical Lutheran Church (TELC), the Arcot Lutheran Church (ALC), the India Evangelical Lutheran Church (IELC) and the Andhra Evangelical Lutheran Church (AELC) are the Lutheran churches have their presence in these affected areas. Bishop Gideon Devenesan of the Arcot Lutheran Church has stated that 'he has pressed into service pastors and youth members of the church in study and monitoring.' The church with the assistance of the United Evangelical Lutheran Church in India (UELCI) and the CASA, will open feeding centers in several places in Cuddalore and Pondicherry. Bishop T. Aruldoss, Bishop of the Tamil Evangelical Lutheran Church has called this as “worst tragedy in recent years” and has also reported of the opening of feeding centers. The TELC will operate in Nagapattinam and Karaikal, and in some of the worst affected places. The Rev. Victor Moses, President of the Andhra Evangelical Lutheran Church has assured initiatives in the coastal belt of Andhra Pradesh.In Chennai (Madras) the Christian Community has organized feeding programmes for the victims in the coastal belt. Bishop V. Devasahayam, Bishop in Madras, Church of South India has expressed his deep anguish and pain.The United Evangelical Lutheran Church has been in touch with its member churches that have expressed their solidarity with the victims and have also promised assistance. The UELCI is also in touch with its partners, the Geneva based Lutheran World Federation (LWF) and the Action by Churches Together (ACT-International). It has organized teams to study the situation and monitor the disaster. It has also appealed to its partners to support the immediate feeding centers and medical camps.

The UELCI will already prepare programmes of rehabilitation with the perspective of long-term engagement.

The UELCI also expresses its deep anguish, pain and solidarity with all the families and their dear ones in India, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Male-Maldives and other countries. South Asia is in tears.
The UELCI appeals to its partners and member churches to continue to express its solidarity and also to support its activities. It appreciates all who have already expressed their solidarity and pledged support.

Rev. Chandran Paul Martin
Executive Secretary, UELCI