New Delhi (Agenzia Fides) - Prayer, empathy, closeness and concrete solidarity: this is how the Catholic Church in India shows its proximity to the victims of Cyclone Amphan which in recent days hit parts of the Indian states of Odisha and West Bengal, and of Bangladesh.
"In our prayers we remember all those affected by this cyclone, COVID-19 and all those migrants who are still on their way home", said Cardinal Oswald Gracias, Archbishop of Bombay and President of the Catholic Bishops Conference of India (CBCI) in a note sent to Fides. Expressing closeness and solidarity, the message invites civil authorities, humanitarian organizations and religious communities to bring relief to all those affected by the cyclone.
Archbishop Thomas D'Souza, at the head of the Catholic community of Calcutta, launched an appeal to all parishes and ecclesial institutions to mobilize to help those affected with relief materials (food and accommodation), in collaboration with Caritas India and Seva Kendra, the charity of the archdiocese.
The streets were flooded in Calcutta, the capital of West Bengal, where 15 million people live, while power lines were cut down and fallen trees blocked the roads. About 200 Indian Army soldiers joined over 4,000 relief workers and local volunteers who work on the streets with the police after the cyclone devastated the city.
The timely intervention by the West Bengal government to evacuate millions of people from the affected areas avoided the massacre, but at least 112 people in eastern India and Bangladesh died during the cyclone, the strongest that hit the region since 1999.
Over 60% of the population has been affected by the aftermath of the cyclone in West Bengal with entire devastated villages. Roads and electricity remain cut across much of West Bengal and over 5,000 trees have fallen due to winds and heavy rain.
A United Nations team in India called Cyclone Amphan even more destructive than Cyclone Aila, which in 2009 caused widespread damage in the same region of eastern India and southern Bangladesh. (SD-PA) (Agenzia Fides, 29/5/2020)