Volume 93, Issue 41

Thursday, November 11, 1999


Rez council in the works for Saugeen

Extra councillor not needed

USC approves Remembrance Week

Contract negotiations still await

Canadians punch more time on clock

Relief effort led by Western prof


Caught on campus

Relief effort led by Western prof

By Paul-Mark Rendon
Gazette Staff

The catastrophic cyclones which pummelled the East Coast of India have prompted a Western faculty member to establish and co-ordinate a relief effort for the suffering region.

Lalu Mansinha, a geophysics professor at Western, said he would be spearheading a fund-raising effort to lend a hand to the devastated state of Orissa.

Mansinha explained two cyclones, occurring a week apart in mid-October, brought furious winds and tidal waves levelling the coastal area southwest of Calcutta. "Cyclones are fairly common in India, but this one was dubbed the 'super-cyclone,'" he said. "The second one was the most destructive cyclone we've ever seen. Over 10,000 [were] dead or possibly washed away and 1.5 million homes [were] destroyed." He added the disaster has ultimately displaced close to 15 million people in the area.

Mansinha said the relief organizers are aiming to raise $40,000 to help the cyclone victims, but were also looking to collect food clothing and medical supplies from students and London businesses and residents.

"It is a disaster of remarkable proportions. The inundation of the coastal areas made access near impossible in the beginning," said Diyoshi Chakravarti, deputy high commissioner for the High Commission of India in Ottawa.

Chakravarti applauded Mansinha's efforts, as well as others who have chosen to help in the cause. "The government of India has not issued an international plea for help, but for those who have chosen to do so, we are deeply appreciative," he said.

Tommi Laulajainen, director of communications for Doctors Without Borders, a relief organization which sends medical professionals to hard-hit international areas, said the group sent a team of seven experts to the scourged areas of Orissa. The team will set up field clinics through the fund-raising efforts of people like Mansinha.

Chakravarti said a big concern for the Indian government was the possible outbreak of disease in the aftermath of the cyclone. "Essentially, we are attempting to get food-stuffs and medicine into the area, as well as taking measure against possible epidemic."

Mansinha agreed the conditions left by the storm, such as flooding, have opened the region to another disaster. "Cholera is a big potential problem," he said.

Chakrabarti added the region will be in dire need of indefinite re-structuring. "The severity is most exceptional, but the people are resilient and long-term re-construction is already underway," he said.

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Copyright The Gazette 1999