As the worst flooding in half a century struck the southern India state of Kerala, World Council of Churches general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit called for prayers for those affected and for those responding, and expressed his sympathy for those who have lost loved ones in the disaster.
The flooding has killed more than 300 people and left thousands stranded. The area remains under grave threat of floods and landslides.
“Our hearts go out to people living in terrible fear in what has become a precarious situation,” said Tveit, who also commended the many churches on the ground assisting in rescue operations and relief work.
“Local churches have become especially important in bringing hope to remote villages cut off by flooding that has destroyed roads and bridges,” Tveit said. “We also hear reports of damage to churches and relief centers, and we pray for those trying to respond even while coping with their own losses.”
The Church of South India (CSI) was reporting that church buildings and mission centers have been damaged or destroyed, and that many are still inaccessible to rescuers. Floods have reached the second floors of houses and buildings, while gushing water has devastated low-lying and coastal areas, the CSI reported.
In Vandiperiyar, an affected area in the Idukki district, roads are washed out, resulting total isolation. “Many people including the CSI priest in this area are now in the relief camp. The rain took away many of their houses,” reads a CSI report. In the same district, the Cheruthoni Church is also at high risk.
People from churches, parish halls, schools, and colleges, youth and priests, students and families, were all in some way contributing to the rescue work. Many were collecting food kits and distributing them in relief camps. CSI parishes outside the area were also responding.