Cyclone Gaja kills 20, damages Vailankanni church


By Matters India Reporter

Chennai, Nov. 16, 2018: At least 20 people were killed and more than 86,000 evacuated as the cyclonic storm Gaja crossed Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry coast on November 16.

The storm caused extensive damages to India’s top Marian shrine, the Basilica of Our Lady of Good Health at Vailankanni.

The administration has put the entire state on high alert and declared holiday has for schools and colleges in many districts.

According to the latest reports, death toll in central districts rose to 20 by noon. Ten persons died in Thanjavur district, 4 in Tiruvarur, 3 in Pudukkottai, two in Tiruchi and one in Nagapattinam.

The Tamil Nadu State Disaster Management Authority has opened district-level helpline 1077 for people to contact in case of emergency.

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami, who is in Salem, announced 1 million rupees each to the bereaved families and 100,000 to seriously injured. He said 81,948 people were evacuated from vulnerable areas and housed in 471 government relief centers. He also said state ministers are camping in various parts of the cyclone-affected areas to oversee the relief operations.

As the cyclone’s landfall began, coastal towns of Cuddalore, Nagapattinam, Thondi and Pamban in Tamil Nadu and Karaikkal and Puducherry received rainfall ranging between 3 cm and 8 cm.

According to initial reports, the coastal areas of the district from Nagapattinam to Point Calimere bore the brunt of Gaja’s wrath.

Tamil Nadu Revenue Minister R B Udhayakumar told media persons that relief operations are being taken on a war-footing. Udhayakumar said the damage caused by the cyclone is being ascertained.

The Vailankanni church is some 315 km south of Chennai, the state capital. Pictures circulated in social media platforms show the extensive damage to the church and statues.

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2 thoughts on “Cyclone Gaja kills 20, damages Vailankanni church

  1. Marian devotion is good, but over emphasis on miraculous pilgrimage centres reduces our faith to some kind of bargaining chip with God. Unfortunately the Catholic Church tends to encourage such blind devotions.

  2. During the tsunami a few years ago too this Marian shrine was severely damaged. In neighbouring Sri Lanka two SCJM sisters distributing communion on Sunday morning were washed away in the sea.

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