Nearest Catholic parish helps villagers devastated by glacier’s collapse (PHOTOS)
by Nirmala Carvalho

The Diocese of Bijnor in Uttarakhand remains mobilised to help residents in Chamoli District, devastated by a disaster two weeks ago. Concern is growing about by a developing lake in high  altitude. If it should give way, it could cause a new flood downstream.

Mumbai (AsiaNews) –  A local Catholic parish continues to help people in Chamoli District (Uttarakhand) affected by the collapse of a glacier two weeks ago.

While digging continues in the mud to recover the bodies of the missing, Father Ajo Thelappily reached eight villages directly affected by the disaster last Friday.

Father Ajo is a member of the Carmelites of Mary Immaculate (CMI) and pastor at Jyoti Niwas, a mission church near Joshimath, just 25 kilometres from the site where the collapse occurred, in the Diocese of Bijnor.

“Together with Sister Soumya, a religious with the Sisters of Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament (SABS) and director of the Jyoti Vidyalaya School, Joshimath's Catholic school, we went to the devastated area,” the clergyman told AsiaNews.

“With some of her Sisters and some people from the school we brought food to the families of these eight villages.

“The Diocese of Bijnor is collecting and distributing food, as well as preparing to help these people rebuild their lives, not just the houses that were swept away.”

Some 67 bodies have been recovered so far, but many more are still missing. There is also anxiety over the new lake that the mass of debris created at more than 4,000 metres.

The basin is filling up and many fear that it could give way, causing another flood that would hit the villages again.

“We visited many families from 11 am to 7 pm,” Sister Soumya told AsiaNews. “Seeing with our own eyes the impact of the glacier’s collapse on the villages and the people was tragic.

“Many lives have been lost, many are missing and have not yet been found, presumed dead. We saw so much suffering. Along with food, we tried to bring comfort and words of consolation to the families.”