After an aerial reconnaissance of the area devastated by last week’s earthquake, Indian Defense Minister George Fernandes says that one hundred thousand people may be dead and two hundred thousand or more injured.

In scenes reminiscent of the aftermath of a nuclear disaster, thousands of injured are jamming areas around overwhelmed hospitals as the true immensity of this disaster becomes more clear. From the heart-rending report that three hundred and fifty schoolchildren were killed while on parade–an entire school–to the shocked horror of government officials who are realizing that whole villages and towns are dead, the stories of the quake suggest a catastrophe of world-historic proportions.

From Kathmandu in Nepal to the rice-growing areas of Bangladesh, people felt the immense quake, which reached 7.9 on the Richter scale at its epicenter in the Indian state of Gujarat, India’s second-largest industrial region. Near the epicenter, the quake was powerful enough to level all but the best-constructed buildings, and residents and officials are claiming that shoddily constructed buildings were a major reason for the vast extent of the catastrophe.

In a BBC interview, the Gujarat home minister, Haren Pandya, said there was a rare, rare chance now of finding anyone else alive.

The Indian government has said it will have to borrow one-and-a-half-billion dollars from international banks to help it recover from the earthquake, but observers expect that total to double. India’s finances are not prepared for such a devastating shock, and the ability of the Indian government to raise even half that money is in question.

In the meantime, there is serious danger that the disaster will lead to outbreaks of diseases such as cholera, which is spread by poor sanitary conditions such as those being experienced in the devastated area. By contrast, the worst disaster in U.S. history was the Galveston Hurricane of 1900, which killed 6,000 and left 30,000 homeless. The Indian earthquake, with 100,000 dead, ranks among the greatest natural disasters ever recorded. The three million estimated homeless are the equivalent of the population of a huge city like Chicago. The 200,000 now suffering with injuries in need of immediate attention are the equivalent of all the emergency admissions at all the hospitals in a major US metropolitan area for a year.

For further information go to BBC News, which has by far the world’s best coverage.

WHITLEYSWORLD URGES YOU TO TAKE A MOMENT TO MAKE A DONATION RIGHT NOW. Your ten dollars might bring a family back together or feed a famished child for a month.

Numerous churches and religious organizations around the United States are collecting money and supplies for India, in addition to the following national and international organizations:

Unicef, the United Nations Children’s Fund, has launched an appeal for the earthquake victims and their site has information and opportunities to donate online.

The Indian Development and Relief Fund is channelling donations to humanitarian agencies operating in India. They can be reached at 4807 Phebe Ave., Fremont, CA 94555, USA.

An Ahmedabad-based agency, Vishwa Gujarati Samaj, is taking donations. Details through their website.

CARE International.

The following US-based aid agencies are accepting contributions for assistance. They are members of InterAction, a coalition of relief, development and refugee assistance agencies.

Adventist Development and Relief Agency Earthquake Relief – India 12501 Old Columbia Pike Silver Spring, MD 20904 1-800-424-ADRA, 10th Floor New York, NY 10017 212-885-0832, 10th Floor New York, NY 10018 1-800-889-7146 NW Washington, DC 20036 202-857-6533 NE Atlanta, GA 30303 1-800-521-CARE MD., 21203-7090 1-800-736-3467 VA 23261 1-800-SPONSOR MI 49560 1-800-55-CRWRC NY 10115-0050 212-870-2167 Room 903 New York, NY 10016 212-557-8000 CA 93117 805-964-4767 NY, 10116-2247 1-888-392-0392 AZ 85260 1-800-2-HUNGER MD 21298-9832 1-800-LWR-LWR2 GA 31521 1-800-225-8550 Ste. 200 Los Angles, CA 90069 1-800-678-7255 MA 02111-1206 1-800-77-OXFAM VA 22314 703-684-5528

United Methodist Committee on Relief 475 Riverside Drive, Room 330 New York, NY 10115 1-800-554-8583 NY 10016 1-800-FOR-KIDS

United Way International 701 North Fairfax Street Alexandria, VA 22314 703-519-0092 WA 98133 (800) 755-5022 Department 3 P.O. Box WRC Wheaton, IL 60189 1-800-535-5433 WA 98481 1-888-56-CHILD {

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