Monday, February 21, 2005

UPdate 2

TIDAL WAVE DISASTER: UELCI Update 2

The Tsunami HAVOC :Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry account for 4,500 deadTamil Evangelical and Arcot Lutheran Church organize food and medical camps in several affected villages; UELCI coordinates operations

The tragedy continues as more reports of death keep flowing in. As of mid afternoon of 28th December, about 4500 deaths have been reported in Tamil nadu and Pondicherry alone. Unconfirmed reports, however, put the toll at over 5,500 and in Nagapattinam alone, more than 2,500 people have perished. Over 500 bodies have been recovered from Velankanni, most of whom were pilgrims worshiping in the famous Velankanni Church. In many places, it has been reported that the water levels are receding. Relief work has been going on in full swing. This has been done by the Government and by several voluntary organizations. Water levels have receded in many places in low-lying areas of coastal Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry, helping relief workers to speed up operations.In many places volunteers have been helping the Government and military authorities in clearing the debris and in looking for bodies. Media reports show mass burials taking place in several sites of the tragedy. Kanyakumari happens to be the most badly hit district with over 600 reported deaths. This is followed closely by Cuddalore district with 425 deaths reported as of this afternoon. Several Government and private medical teams are treating the injured. It is estimated that several tens of thousands have been rendered homeless. The Government has made temporary arrangements by accommodating the victims in community centers and ‘schools.

The Tamil Evangelical Lutheran Church and the Arcot Lutheran Church have begun operations by setting-up food and medical camps. Church teams continue to visit villages. The ALC has now identified about 3000 victims at Cuddalore and Porto Novo. The church is also initiating efforts to begin operations in Pondicherry. Both the churches have identified the need to provide food, water, temporary shelter, blankets, clothing and utensils for the survivors. Several deaths have been reported in the churches as well; in TELC, ALC and IELC.In the mean time the Andhra Evangelical Lutheran Church has also sent a team to study the situation in the coastal Andhra belt. The Jeypore Evangelical Lutheran Church, while celebrating its Golden Jubilee of Indian leadership today dedicated their celebrations by committing to raise support and resources for relief work. The Executive Secretary of the UELCI addressed the Jubilee by teleconference. The Jubilee collections have been earmarked for relief work.The UELCI is sending a medical team from the Lutheran Bethesda hospital of the IELC to assist the ALC in its operations. The UELCI is monitoring the situation and has initiated responses through the support of the Action by Churches Together. (ACT International) and other churches and partners, The Lutheran World Federation, partners, mission boards and churches have sent messages of solidarity and pledges of support.

(All assistance may be sent to UELCI)

Rev.Chandran Paul Martin
Executive Secretary, UELCI