Death toll in India, under-reported says aid worker

By January 12, 2005

India (MNN) — More than 150,000 people have died after the tsunami struck 11 countries in Asia. That number will rise as disease plagues the region. The number of homeless is in the millions. It’s listed at one of the top five natural disasters in world history.

Mission India of Grand Rapids, Mich.- says more than 10,000 people were killed in the heart of where they’ve had work for more than 20 years. Mission India’s David DeGroot just returned from the region. “(The) total (number of) deaths officially in India (are) about 10,000. But, on the ground people say the government chronically under-reports deaths in situations like this and I think I can verify that.”

DeGroot says their partnering churches helped to distribute 50 tons of Family Survival Program Packages. The packages include clothing, dried food, cooking utensils, sleeping mats and Scripture portions. $50 can help an entire family. DeGroot says, “We want to take these kits directly to the families identified as needy families. They are identified by long term ministry workers who have been in these remote fishing villages, who make a list of families and we check off names to be sure the kits get the right families.”

These survival packages aren’t just going to Christian families, says DeGroot. “The Christians are very adamant that these kits go to their Hindu neighbors. It opens the door to Gospel outreach. (We’re) just simply a cup of cold water in the name of Christ.”

A Mission India church, located above the high water mark in one fishing village, is a bright beacon of light. DeGroot says, “The people were cowering inside the church hoping and praying that the waves would not wash over them like every other structure and the waves did stop in the front yard of the church. This church has now become a refugee camp. Every night there’s a prayer service and morning every night there’s a prayer service.”

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