Thousands forced to relocate from predominately Catholic coastal communities
All of the dead were poor fisherman, from a Catholic stronghold at the tip of southern India, Father Wilfred, a priest of Vizhinam parish, a fishing village near Kerala’s capital, Thiruvananthapuram, told Catholic News Service.
The typhoon came with little warning as it rapidly developed from a tropical depression near Sri Lanka on November 30 to a typhoon named Ockhi. According to a report in Business Today-India, in Keral and Tamil Nadu, the state governments have been taken to task for delayed warnings.
The area affected, on India’s southern coast, is predominately Catholic. The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India offered prays for those affected by the tragedy, and called special Masses to be held on December 10.
“We offer our condolences to the families of all those who have lost their lives and we wish to comfort those who have been afflicted by pain and suffering caused by the devastating hurricane in the past few days,” Bishop Theodore Mascarenhas, conference secretary general, said in a statement.
Fr. Eugene Pereira, Vicar General of the Latin Archdiocese, said on Tuesday that a number of the missing fisherman had joined the government’s rescue efforts.
“It is ridiculous that the government is not able to bring back the fishermen even after six days. Fishermen who sought refuge in other states are not receiving food or other facilities, “ said Fr. Pereira, who called for the Prime Minister to visit the stricken area to evaluate the extent of the damage and release funding for a relief package.
“If the Prime Minister is not ready to announce the package, we will think about meeting the Prime Minister to submit the complaints,” he said.