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Catholic Church group joins efforts to help people devastated by cyclone in India

A Catholic Church group vowed to help those most affected by the cyclone that hit hundreds of thousands of villagers along the coast of eastern India and Bangladesh this week.

Father Lijo George, director of the Balasore Social Service Society, said his organization “will not leave a stone unturned” to reach out to those who are affected by the disaster.

The Diocese of Balasore was among areas severely hit by Cyclone Yaas that ripped through the eastern Indian state of Odisha on Wednesday packing gusts of up to 140 kph.

The priest told news site Matters India that several houses in the diocese were damaged, describing the situation as “heart breaking.”

Thousands of villagers were seen marooned by floodwaters on Thursday in the aftermath of the powerful cyclone that has so far killed at least five people.

Relief workers delivered food and water to people in 124 villages in Odisha, the state’s top bureaucrat Suresh Mahapatra said.

The storm, the second to hit India in a week, comes at a time when the country is battling a deadly second wave of coronavirus infections that has stretched the healthcare system to its breaking point.

Some 500,000 people were sheltered in relief camps in West Bengal and officials said they had taken steps to reduce the risk of a potential spread of the virus.

People are being tested for coronavirus using the rapid antigen test and anyone who tests positive would be shifted to safe homes set up in government offices and schools.

Authorities in Bangladesh reported flooding of villages due to heavy rains and tidal surges.

“I have never seen a tidal surge rising to this level. It flooded many villages and washed away houses. Many people are marooned,” said Humayum Kabir, an official in the coastal district of Khulna in Bangladesh.

Yaas had weakened on Thursday to a deep depression as it drove inland over the Indian state of Jharkhand.

Elsewhere on the sub-continent, Nepal was bracing for floods in its plains and landslides in the hills as heavy rains have lashed the country since Wednesday and were forecast to last till Saturday.

People living on riverbanks must be alert and climbers should return from the mountains, Nepal’s National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Authority said in a statement. – with a report from Reuters

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