NEW DELHI, Jan. 26, 01 (CWNews.com/Fides) - An earthquake
measuring nearly 7 points on the Richter scale hit parts of
India at 8.50 am local time on Friday. According to the
first news reports, nearly 500 people are so far believed
to be dead but the number could rise as many people still
remain buried under rubble.
Indian Home Minister Lal Krishna Advani said that the death
figure could be 1,000 or more. The deaths and most damage
took place in the western state of Gujarat. There is also a
fear that there might be more tremors and authorities have
advised people to be alert and keep watch.
The epicenter of the earthquake was Bhuj and the worst
affected area is that of Kutch, both in Gujarat. The
tremors of the quake were felt as far as Delhi and Bengal
in the north and eastern part of India.
Father Walter of St. Joseph's seminary in Ahmedabad, the
capital of the state and the commercial city of Gujarat,
speaking to Father Dominic Emmanuel, spokesman for the
Catholic Bishops' Conference of India, said, "There is no
news of any serious damage to any of our Catholic churches,
nor any incidence of death of Church personnel so far. There
have been, however, cracks seen in many Church buildings."
Following the earthquake, telephone and electricity lines
have been badly affected and the Bishop's House in the city
of Ahmedabad could not be contacted.
The earthquake came as India was celebrating its 51st
anniversary of the founding of the Republic with a grand
military and cultural show in New Delhi in the presence of
most important political leaders.
Meanwhile, Caritas International has launched an emergency
appeal to help Caritas India provide aid to earthquake
victims. From its headquarters in Vatican City, Caritas
International has appealed to its network for $1,000,000 to
help Caritas India meet the immediate needs of those
Caritas India is the official national organization of the
Catholic Bishops' Conference of India for relief and
development work. Operational since 1962, its headquarters
are in New Delhi and there are 120 branch organizations
active in every diocese in India.
The Caritas Confederation is one of the world's largest
humanitarian networks. Its 154 relief, development, and
social service organizations are present in 198 countries