From the Worldwide Faith News archives

India: LWF, church agencies deliver assistance in remote areas

Date 01 Feb 2001 08:37:10for <,>; Thu, 1 Feb 2001 08:46:12 -0800 (PST)

Dwindling hopes of finding more survivors after Gujarat earthquake 

GUJARAT, India/GENEVA, 1 February 2001 (lwi) - "When I heard the people
digging for me, I started crying," said 16 year-old Keten Rathod. He may as
well be among the last survivors rescued from the debris after the strong
earthquake that struck western India's state of Gujarat on January 26,
leaving an estimated 100,000 people dead and 200,000 injured.

A soldier in an army rescue team heard Keten's cries from beneath the
rubble. For 96 hours, he was trapped with his dead grandmother in the
collapsed concrete of the former family house in Anjar. When they finally
pulled him out at 10.00 a.m. on January 30, he was dehydrated, but had
suffered no serious injuries. "I thought they were all dead," said Keten's
mother, Naina Narbheram, who was at a friend's house when the earthquake

The India program of the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) Department for
World Service (DWS), LWS-India, already in Gujarat with a drought relief
program, is currently providing emergency relief to the affected population.

LWS-India emergency officer, P. J. Chacko, reports that the media focus is
currently on large urban centers like Ahmadabad, Gujarat's biggest city, and
Bhuj. But Chacko says, "There are areas [remote villages] which have not
been covered by the government or other non-governmental organizations.
These will be the target areas" of the LWF office.

LWS-India will initially provide some 20,000 families, approximately
100,000-200,000 people, with emergency relief assistance in the form of food
and non-food items. It will also distribute 20,000 plastic sheets for
temporary shelter and provide drinking water. The United Evangelical
Lutheran Church in India, a body of ten Lutheran churches, and the Churches'
Auxiliary for Social Action, an agency of Protestant churches, are also
active in providing relief assistance in Gujarat.

All three agencies are members of Action by Churches Together (ACT), a
Geneva-based network of churches and related agencies that meet human need
through coordinated emergency response. ACT will issue shortly a preliminary
USD 3 million appeal for India, of which USD 2 million already has been
pledged. (The LWF is a founding member of ACT.)

In Kutch District, the earthquake measuring between 6.9 and 7.9 on the
Richter Scale left more than ten towns with 20,000-30,000 inhabitants each
razed to the ground along with hundreds of villages. Aid workers still
digging into the stony debris of ruined buildings expressed little hope of
finding more survivors. Official estimates of the number of people left
homeless or in need of assistance in the coming months are yet to be

(The LWF is a global communion of Christian churches in the Lutheran
tradition. Founded in 1947 in Lund (Sweden), the LWF now has 131 member
churches in 72 countries representing over 60.2 million of the nearly 64
million Lutherans worldwide. The LWF acts on behalf of its member churches
in areas of common interest such as ecumenical relations, theology,
humanitarian assistance, human rights, communication, and the various
aspects of mission and development work. Its secretariat is located in
Geneva, Switzerland.)

[Lutheran World Information (LWI) is the information service of the Lutheran
World Federation (LWF). Unless specifically noted, material presented does
not represent positions or opinions of the LWF or of its various units.
Where the dateline of an article contains the notation (LWI), the material
may be freely reproduced with acknowledgement.]

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