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29 November

Saint Saturnius

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Hurricane Stan at Chiapas

 

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Diagnosis presented by Caritas from the Diocese of San Cristóbal de las Casas

20/10/2005: Mexico

Chiapas is one of the regions that has been most affected by the passage of Hurricane Stan from the 3rd to the 7th October 2005. Amidst the suffering and powerlessness, we see on the media many people who are suffering from the torrential rains that are on-going in this region. The rivers have burst their banks and flooded the villages and the communities, razing their crops and destroying their houses and bridges.
We are speaking about 590 isolated communities, a multitude of destroyed houses and families who have lost everything. They no longer have potable water, telephone or electricity. The cellular telephone networks have also been damaged such that mobile phones can only be used in very rare places.
The official number of victims cited is 200,000 and several hundreds of people have sought refuge in the 524 shelters set up by the government in schools and in churches. The media show the tearful faces of victims meandering in the villages not knowing where to go to sleep, as there is no room left in the shelters.

In the most distant communities, there are people walking for more than ten hours to implore help as they are without shelter, without food, without water and without medicine. There have been an estimated thirty deaths in the regions of Tapachula and Suchiate alone. In the affected region, more than two and a half million people are living without knowing the exact number of those who have disappeared.
There is no news from the high regions of Sierra Madre which have been isolated since the passage of the hurricane eight days ago. It is feared that the mass of water accumulated in this mountainous area will cause mudslides and thus a greater loss of human life.
The affected populations and communities are starting to lack supplies, petrol and gas, potable water in the towns caused by damage to the filtration system and there is the risk of infection. At Tapachula, for example, the supermarkets have started to ration products and the price of certain articles has increased by 400%; only cash is now being accepted. Several banks have suspended their services due to the over demand for cash.
We are very moved seeing so much destruction and feeling our own powerlessness to help. It is the drama of the Chiapas that we see and, as always, these are the poorest people, those who live on the banks of the rivers, who are affected by these plagues of nature.

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