05/12/2015, 00.00
NEPAL

Earthquake in Nepal: more than 500 dead in the Christian community

by Christopher Sharma
The victims were celebrating the religious ceremony when the quake hit: the day off in the country is Saturday, not Sunday. Dozens of churches - mostly housed in rented homes - have collapsed. No Catholic casualties.

Kathmandu (AsiaNews) - More than 500 Christians are estimated to have been killed by the earthquake in Nepal and dozens of churches destroyed. On the contrary, in the Catholic community there are no victims, nor was serious damage to places of worship reported. According to the religious authorities, the majority of deaths were caused by the collapse of churches: April 25th, when the earthquake struck was a Saturday, the weekly day of rest in Nepal when protestant communities gather to pray and hold services.

"In Nepal - the Protestant Bishop Narayan Sharma told AsiaNews - Sunday is not a day off, so we celebrate functions weekly every Saturday. When the earthquake hit, we were in the middle of the service. "

However, the imbalance in the number of victims Christian and Catholic is related to another factor: "We Christians - explains Sharma - have few churches properly built. In most cases we use rented homes to celebrate, but these buildings have structural problems. "

There are few Catholic churches in Nepal, but they are properly built. Fr. Ignatius Rai, pastor of the Cathedral of the Assumption in Kathmandu, says: "We had no casualties, only a few injured and some minor damage."

This is not the case of a collapsed seven-storey building in Kapan (Kathmandu), which hosted the Nepal Evangelical Church: more than 80 worshipers died. Gimire Raman, who was not present due to illness, said: "I lost my pastor and three members of my family, as well as other friends. It's hard to think about that day. "

Evangelicals of the Assemblies of God World Missions claim that three of their churches were destroyed, and many faithful were killed. The same happened to the Christian Aid Mission.

C.B. Gahatraj, a Protestant pastor and general secretary of the Christian Federation Nepal, says: "We have no exact data, we are trying to collect it. But we had huge losses. The churches we believe most at risk are in the districts of Gorkha, Nuwakot, Dhading, Sindhuli, Lamjung and Dolakha, some of the most devastated places.  In those areas we have more than 100 small churches.

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