CAFOD responds to India cyclone

14 October 2013

Damage from Cyclone Phailin, which struck the east of India

[Catholic Relief Services]

We have committed an initial £50,000 to respond immediately to Cyclone Phailin, which caused devastation in India this weekend.

The huge cyclone was the worst to hit India for more than a decade, with winds of up to 130 mph, torrential rain and a storm surge of over three metres. At least eight million people have been affected, and more than 870,000 people were evacuated from their homes in Odisha state alone.

The cyclone has damaged or destroyed hundreds of thousands of buildings and flooded farmland over a vast area. Our partners report that whole villages were washed away.

When I left my home, it looked so devastating, I could see roads blocked with uprooted trees and response teams clearing the roads. Houses made of mud and bamboo were the worst hit and homes in the slums have completely collapsed and roofs are blown away.

Kirti Mishra, Catholic Relief Services

So far, the Indian government is reporting 23 confirmed deaths. The last cyclone of comparable size killed around 10,000 people in 1999, but it appears that vastly improved early warning systems have successfully prevented a calamity on a similar scale.

Serious impact

CAFOD’s Robert Cruickshank said: “The evacuation of hundreds of thousands of people has saved a great many lives. But this disaster will still have a serious impact on huge numbers of people in the short and long term.

“Families have started moving back to their villages from cyclone shelters, but many will find that their homes and possessions have been washed away. Early reports from our partners suggest that more than 200,000 houses have been lost.

“There has also been a huge loss of agricultural crops. Half a million hectares of crops are believed to have been affected and salt water will make some land unusable for years to come.

“With water sources destroyed and many villages waterlogged, sanitation is also a serious concern. It’s vital that people have clean water and adequate sanitation in place in order to prevent the spread of disease.

“People are likely to need shelter, food, clean water, hygiene kits and basic household items to replace those that have been washed away. In the longer term, families who have lost everything will need support in making a living again.”

Our local Catholic partners are on the ground, assessing the most immediate needs. We have pledged an initial £50,000 to support them in providing immediate aid.

Prayer for all those affected>>

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