Death Toll Mounts In Double Disasters

A double dose of natural disasters led Catholic agencies working in Indonesia to mount multiple efforts to provide emergency services to victims. The disasters—a magnitude 7.7 undersea earthquake on Oct. 25, which triggered a tsunami that swamped coastal villages in the remote Mentawai Islands, and the eruption of a volcano on Java beginning on Oct. 26—claimed more than 400 lives and displaced thousands. Authorities reported at least 400 people remained missing as of Oct. 29, four days after 10-foot waves washed away homes and other structures up to 2,000 feet inland. “Entire villages were swept away,” said Silvano Zulian, a Xaverian priest who lives in the Mentawai Islands. Local priests and women religious were among the first to reach the affected communities.

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