Divine Word Missionaries

Tsunami in South-East Asia

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Rev. Fr. Antonio Pernia SVD

Dear Rev. Father,

reetings from INH Province. With immense gratitude for the your kind favors that you have done towards the Tsunami victims, here by I would like to present a short report of visits to the coastal villages situated in Nagapattinam district in the State of Tamil Nadu. The province Tsunami relief operation team visited the villages namely Keechankuppam, Akkaraipettai, Pappakoil and Kallar. It is very pathetic to note that all these villages are erased and it is estimated that above 6,023 have been killed in the surrounding villages of Nagapatinam district alone and the death toll may raise.

Shrine Basilica Vellankanni is situated in Nagapattinam district. The devotees from all over India gathered together to celebrate Christmas at this holy place. The parish priest of this Shrine basilica narrated that there were about 1500 people who gathered on 26 – 12 – 2004 to celebrate feast of the Holy Family. The Eucharist celebration began at 8.00 A.M. in the morning and almost about 1000 people participated in it. After the mass they went to the beach as usual for a walk and to have their breakfast. The beach is always a busiest place for there are many vendors selling the necessary commodities as well as fancy and religious articles. The Tsunami struck here at 9.00 A.M. as per IST and it seems the waves rose up to 20 feet high and in a few minutes time every thing was washed away. Again the parish priest of Shrine Basilica said that he was not aware of such incident, but busy in celebrating Mass in the church for the devotees. Later some one informed him of the same. At about 11.00 AM. IST the Tsunami struck for the second time here. The fury of Tsunami was in high density it swallowed more than 2000 people including as many devotees who dropped in to this shrine. The Shrine authorities have sofar found 1350 bodies in the shrine vicinity, the beach and buried them.

The people who are alive are shifted to the safer places like schools, colleges, multi purpose halls and are accommodated well in different camps. We visited 4 camps and distributed the necessary items like Rice, Towels, Saris, plates and other nutritious items for the victims. However the people are coming back normal life and are leaving from the camps back to their villages to re-start their lives. The people are requesting us to help them towards putting up a temporary sheds as well as towards purchase of catamarans and nets. The students are requesting us help them towards purchase of text books, note books and other stationery items so that they can start going to the schools and colleges. It is estimated that a total sum of Rupees 479 crores could be the loss incurred in Nagapattinam district.


Length of the coast affected 1,000 KM
Incursion of water into land 1 KM to 1.5 Km
Average height of waves 7 M to 10 M
Villages affected 362
Population affected 6.91 Lakhs
Dwelling units affected 1,12,748
Cattle loss 5,477
Cropped areas hit 2,589 ha.


Another need is counseling for these traumatized victims. It takes patience, gentleness, compassion and the ability to listen with love and understanding. So our counselling team is continuing its ministry in the affected areas.

Having met the immediate needs of these affected people, we would like to propose a rehabilitation measures which in turn will help the people to lead a normal life in the coastal areas.

Short term rehabilitation work :-

  1. To help the affected people to put up temporary sheds.
  2. To help towards purchase of Catamarans and fishing nets.
  3. To help the school children and college going students towards purchase text books and note books immediately.

Long term rehabilitation work :-

  1. Towards construction of houses.

Thanking you,

Yours Sincerely,

Fr. Savarimuthu Devadass SVD
Director, Divine Word Social Service Society

Fr. Selvam SVD
Director, Arnold communications.

C/O Rev. Fr. Gnanaprakasam Lazar SVD
Provincial Superior, INH Province.