Last summer I spent time in Southern India studying and visiting congregations with the Church of South India as part of a group from Eden Theological Seminary. Many of the areas we visited were hit by the tidal wave. So far I have not received any reports from churches in the area. My mother and step-father are also waiting for word from friends they have in the area. Please do all you can to help. Visit Church World Service for more information.
SITUATION: The fourth largest earthquake in recorded history has wreaked major destruction across eight countries in Southern Asia. The initial quake, which struck 100 miles off the coast of Indonesia’s Sumatra Island at around 7:00 a.m. Sunday, measured 9 in magnitude on the Richter scale and was part of a powerful series of earthquakes. The undersea quakes triggered enormous tidal waves which swept across the Indian Ocean, striking coastal regions of Sri Lanka, India, Indonesia, Thailand, Bangladesh, Burma and Malaysia. The tsunami also swept across the low-lying islands that make up the Maldives. At 7:00 p.m. eastern time on December 26, the death toll across the region was estimated at 11,000 and will continue to rise.
As of Sunday evening, news agencies in Indonesia reported over 4,000 dead, many of them in Aceh, in northern Sumatra, 100 miles from the quake's epicenter.
Sri Lankan military authorities are reporting more than 4,500 people killed, most of them in the eastern district of Batticaloa. Several districts in the country's south have still not reported casualty figures, and authorities fear the death toll will rise.
Along India's southeastern coast, several villages appeared to have been swept away, and thousands of fishermen -- including 2,000 from the Chennai area alone -- who were out at sea when the massive waves swept across the waters have not returned. India government officials said at least 2,300 Indians were killed as a result of the massive waves.
Across the entire region emergency officials say thousands are missing and more than a half million people have been displaced.
CWS will be undertaking a regional response to this catastrophe, focusing support for emergency response efforts in at least three most affected areas.
CWS New York has been in contact with the CWS Indonesia office. CWS staff in Indonesia are assessing the affected area and are planning an initial emergency response. In Indonesia, the province of Aceh on Sumatra's northernmost tip near the epicenter of the undersea quake is reported to have been hit the worst. Reports are that the island of Nias has been hit very hard. The island, which is generally underdeveloped, has a population of nearly 700,000 people. No reports have been received so far from Aceh. Complicating factors could be that Aceh has become increasingly isolated from the world due a clampdown by the Indonesian government in an effort to control fighting between government soldiers and separatist rebels. Access by international relief and development agencies has been limited during the past year.
CWS is taking initial planning steps to deploy an emergency assistance team from it’s regional office in Pakistan/Afghanistan. The National Christian Council of Sri Lanka (NCCSL), a CWS partner and member of the global alliance Action by Churches Together (ACT) International, has already started responding to the emergency brought on by the massive sea surge, which swamped the country's southern, eastern and northern coast lines. NCCSL reports that a sea surge triggered by the undersea quake caused massive inland tides (in some instances up to 2.5 km long) in places like Trinco, Batticaloa, Amaprai, Matara, Galle. NCCSL also reports complete destruction in parts of the capital city Colombo along the seashore where many of the poorest of the city lived. The tides swept most of their homes and belongings out to sea. Telephone lines are also down, making communication difficult.
CWS partner the Church's Auxiliary for Social Action (CASA) will be working together with the United Evangelical Lutheran Church in India (UELCI) to assess emergency needs in the states of Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. CASA is deploying two assessment teams (15 people to a team) to travel to the coastal areas of the states early on Monday, December 27. CWS will provide financial assistance to support the CASA response.
Emergency support may be provided by CWS to other affected areas.
Regional deployment of rapid response support and emergency material airlifts of shelter and hygiene materials are being considered by Church World Service. Financial assistance will be needed to support country specific emergency appeals. Further support and assistance from Church World Service will be forthcoming. Initial assessments indicate that full recovery from this disaster will require significant resources.
This initial appeal will be updated as response and recovery actions continue and expand.
Contributions to support this work may be sent to your denomination or to Church World Service, P.O. Box 968, Elkhart, IN 46515. Contributions may also be made by credit card by calling: (800)-297-1516
Please designate contributions for emergency # 6970 SOUTHERN ASIA EARTHQUAKE-TIDAL WAVE EMERGENCY
For further information about disasters to which Church World Service is responding please visit the Church World Service Website at www.churchworldservice.org or phone (800) 297-1516
Church World Service, P.O. Box 968, Elkhart, IN 46515.
CWS Emergency Response Program special contacts: (212) 870-3151;