PRESS RELEASE ON THE DAMAGE CAUSED BY CYCLONE GAJA
The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India expresses it deep sorrow and sadness at the heavy damage inflicted by cyclone Gaja which hit the coastal districts of Tamil Nadu in the morning of 16th November, 2018.
Cyclonic Gaja made landfall in the Nagapattinam District of Tamil Nadu around 1:40 a.m. on Friday. Heavy rain and strong winds have been lashing the coastal areas of Tamil Nadu since Thursday evening. According to initial reports 23 people have lost their lives and a total of 81,948 people are staying in 471 relief centres in six districts.
The natural disaster took its toll despite the preventive measures taken by the Government of Tamil Nadu and by the Church.
The most affected areas lie in Diocese of Thanjavur and Archdiocese of Pondicherry-Cuddalore which have been badly affected by this cyclone. The districts of Nagapattinam, Pudukottai and Pattukottai are the most affected regions. The Shrine of Our Lady of Health, Vailankanni, was also affected badly. The ferocious winds have taken off the cross from the tower of the ancient Church and have also severely damaged the statue of Jesus near the Morning Star Church.
Many people of this region have lost their houses, the trees have been uprooted, the roads and the school buildings have been damaged.
The Church personnel, especially TASOSS, TMSSS and PMSSS (Social Service Societies of the Region and Diocese) under the guidance of the Bishop of Thanjavur, Most Rev. M. Devadass Ambrose and the Archbishop of Pondicherry-Cuddalore, Most Rev. Antony Anandarayar, are helping the affected people.
The Catholic Church stands in solidarity with all people suffering from this calamity and desires to help all people irrespective of their religion, community or provenience. Caritas India is assessing the damage and will begin immediate relief intervention as soon as possible. We reiterate our desire to work with the Government and all people of good will to provide succour to the suffering people.
We pray for the repose of the departed people and even as we offer our condolences to the affected families we assure them of our support and comfort.
Bishop Theodore Mascarenhas, SFX
Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India