Kerala, Maharashtra and Karnataka are the most affected states. More heavy rains are expected in the next 24 hours. “Catholics are at the forefront of saving lives,” said Mgr Derek Fernandes, bishop of Belgaum. “We ask for prayers and solidarity of all kinds,” he added. Card Gracia meets local bishops and coordinates aid from Bangalore.
New Delhi (AsiaNews) – Non-stop monsoon rains have devastated western India causing floods. In the last three days, 22 people have died in Kerala, whilst more than 20 people lost their lives in Maharashtra and neighbouring Karnataka.
As rescue operations continue, more than 120,000 have been evacuated. The weather service warns that more heavy rains are expected over the next 24 hours.
"At present, villages have been isolated. Catholic social services in Karwar have rushed emergency measures to provide relief and assistance,” said Mgr Derek Fernandes, bishop of Belgaum and apostolic administrator of Karwar (Karnataka), speaking to AsiaNews.
“Catholics are at the forefront of saving lives,” he added, “and are providing immediate relief to people: we have opened all our facilities as shelters for them.”
"Roads have been washed away, so reaching villages is very difficult,” he noted. “However, people from Catholic social services are travelling by boat or any other means to bring relief to suffering people without any thought of caste or creed. The Catholic Church suffers with them."
"It took me 32 hours to reach Karwar from Belgaum. Usually, it takes only three and a half hours,” Mgr Fernandes explained. “The situation is very bad. The suffering of the people is tremendous. We are supplying food to about 2,000 people,” and "Our medical teams are in the field with their ambulances.”
“The poorest people are the most affected. They have lost everything. The little they had was washed away by the floods: houses, livestock, crops; all their possessions have gone. We ask for prayers and solidarity of all kinds.”
"The Catholic Church in Karnataka is very worried; we are coordinating aid for the people affected by the floods,” said Mgr Peter Machado, archbishop of Bangalore (Karnataka). “We are doing collections in all our churches, for relief and rehabilitation” of the area.
Card Oswald Gracias, archbishop of Mumbai and president of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India (CBCI), also expressed sorrow for the loss of human life, damage and devastation.
"The Catholic Church feels heartfelt solidarity for all those affected by the floods. I will contact Caritas India to organise relief and emergency rescue,” Card Oswald said. “We will also send teams of medical personnel.”
"Bishop Derek Fernandes is already overseeing rescue and relief operations,” he explained. “As I am currently in Bangalore, I will meet all the bishops of Karnataka to coordinate relief and rehabilitation for victims and survivors. Collections during Masses will go to flood relief.”
“I invoke God’s consolation and strength for those affected by these floods.”