Rome (Fides Service) - The number of people killed by the seaquake which struck a vast area of South Asia rises by the hour. The international network of Caritas national offices is co-ordinating initiatives to send relief aid to the area. «The situation is extremely serious and demands solidarity from the international community. Also because there has never been a tragedy of such proportions, not even in zones like these accustomed to cyclones and earthquakes». This was said by the international network of Caritas after the seaquake which affected 6,000 kilometres and six meridians, triggered by an earthquake 9 degrees Richter.
The network has already completed an analysis of all the countries affected by the seaquake. Those where the situation is most critical are Indonesia, Sri Lanka and India.
In India dioceses along the south eastern coast have opened schools and churches to the homeless. At least 5,000 people are reported dead and many more are missing. Centres for the distribution of food have been organised. Caritas India has sent operators to the coastal town of Chennay to monitor the situation.
Communications in Indonesia have collapsed. Tomorrow a Caritas India delegate will visit the area to investigate the situation. In the northern island of Sumatra the difficulties are greater because the area is presided by the government because of the presence of secessionists and it is difficult to move around freely.
In Sri Lanka communications are more difficult due to the consequences of guerrilla warfare in the north of the Island. There is growing danger of outbreaks of disease and local Caritas offices are organising the distribution of medicine and products to disinfect water.
For Sri Lanka and India, Caritas Internationalis intends to activate two teams of experts which will be operative within 48 hours.
The international Caritas Internationalis network has already made available a sum of 1,700,000 dollars (100,000 Euro provided by Caritas Italy) and the Italian Bishops Conference, which has assigned a sum of three million Euro for emergency relief aid, has entrusted a nation wide solidarity campaign to Caritas Italy and we warmly invite people to support it with generosity. (S.L.) (Agenzia Fides 28/12/2004 righe 26 parole 348)