09/19/2011, 00.00
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Sikkim church hit as number of dead rises

by Nirmala Carvalho
Darjeeling Bishop Steven Lepcha talks about the event and the role Christians are playing in the rescue operations without discrimination of creed or caste. The St Francis School in Sikkim collapsed leaving two students under the rubble.
Darjeeling (AsiaNews) – The death toll from yesterday’s deadly Himalaya earthquake is rising by the hour. The bishop of Darjeeling, Steven Lepcha, spoke about it in an exclusively interview with AsiaNews.

“I am deeply saddened by the earthquake, which struck last evening, followed by aftershocks. The Catholic Church is anguished and pained by the loss of lives,” he said. “We pray for those who have died, and for their grieving families and friends we ask God for His divine blessings of strength and consolation.”

“In Sikkim, the St Francis School in Jorethang collapsed,” the prelate noted. “Regrettably two of our students are trapped in the rubble. We are pleading with God to save their lives.”

“Most of the schools, churches, buildings and hostels and convents have big cracks, but God in His infinite mercy has spared lives. Our children from the hostels have been relocated to a safer place.”

Christians are taking part in the rescue operations. “All our religious and trained medical staff has rushed to provide emergency relief,” the bishop explained. “Our Diocese will be intensely involved in providing rescue, relief and support to the victims of this disaster and in the rehabilitation of the afflicted without any discrimination of caste or creed."

The situation in India, Nepal e Tibet is still serious. Rain and landslides have made rescue work much more treacherous. The death toll now stands at 45.

In the south-eastern Indian state of Sikkim, heavy cloud coverage prevented helicopters from reaching the affected area.

Tremors were felt up to a distance of 1,000 kilometres, in New Delhi in the West and Bangladesh in the east.
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