Tsunami – initial reports

Below are two reports taken from emails by Joseph Vos who has been involved in the campaign to support the St. John’s Orphanage.

First Report on tsunami in Batticolai, East Sri Lanka.

From: Joseph Vos (vos@netvision.net.il)

Dear Friends,

I would like to inform you about what is currently known about the situation in Sri Lanka. As far as I am aware of at this point, Sri Lanka was hit with the full force of the tsunami from a 8.9 richter earthquake off Indonesia. Twenty foot high waves swept away whole villages.

I have been in contact with Rev. Jeyanesan, area minister of the Eastern Province for the JDCSI. The contact was very brief and communication was very difficult. He said that in Batticaloa only there were at least five thousand dead people and this number can rise.

He was just coming back from visiting one of the orphanages. He told me that the tsunami hit this orphanage so hard that the whole orphanage was destroyed completely. The pastor’s wife for the orphanage and their baby were swept away as well. They are still missing. She had been standing outside at the time the wave struck.

The children were in church at that time and were safe. Rev. Jeyanesan told me through another pastor by email that all the children are safe.

The situation in the other centers is as of yet not very clear, but one friend in Colombo told me that the other centers are probably safe.

Your prayers are in need at this time. The aftermath of such a disaster often means many broken families and great distress for all people inthe area. Please keep them in your prayers.

Joseph Vos
For the St. John’s Orphanages

Second Report on tsunami

Dear Friends,

It seems that many villages were completely destroyed in the Eastern Province. The highway connecting most parts has become impassable as the water has also reached that. I have heard that in one center in Trincomalee the children had been loaded into a bus just before the waves damaged some of the structures there.

The refugee camp next door has suffered great damage and many of the people there have been taken by the sea. I heard that none of the fishermen who were on the sea survived. Often, these fishermen do not know how to swim.

Apparently, many of the children from the homes were on leave for the holidays and were with relatives. It is as of yet unknown how many of the children have survived. Those children that were in the homes at the time of the tidal waves have all survived.

At this time also an appeal goes out for financial help. Access to the area is severely limited. All activities are severely hampered also by the devastation and also some by the bad weather. It is not possible to travel into the affected areas, but we are able to send funds to help the emergency needs.

We have been to a village of the indigenous Veddahs in the coastal regions and have brought them emergency supplies. Their village was completely erased, but the people had left before the destruction came. None of our structures in that area were found.

Still many bodies are strewn about in trees, in destroyed buildings, in the water, everywhere. They are starting to decompose and there is actual danger of an outbreak of diseases as a result. Many areas are normally already inaccessible and now especially the access is severely hampered. Supplies of drinking water have been contaminated by the sea water and latrines. Supplies of food are being hampered by inaccessible roads. Many people are without homes and many have lost their complete families. The disaster is of enormous magnitude. Still communication is severely hampered and only those with mobile phones can at times be reached, though this is also severely overstressed.

At this point estimates in the Eastern province alone are that around thirty thousand people are dead or missing.

The missing people are assumed dead as most do not know how to swim. The financial damage is enormous as well, as none of the people were insured, their lifes have been destroyed and many have lost their families. I am sure that with combined help we can bring some relief into the situation and I make therefore an appeal to you.

Please also continue to pray for these poor people as they wander about unknowingly what to do next with their life. They will need to find some kind of direction in their lifes now that so many have lost all that is dear and near to them.

Joseph Vos