A bishop from Gujarat, the Indian state devastated on January 26 by the nation's worst earthquake in 50 years, has warned that survivors need more than mere material assistance.

Vinod Malaviya, the Church of North India bishop of Gujarat, told ENI: "It is not enough that relief material is distributed to the affected people. We need to send counselors to help the people overcome the trauma. We are making arrangements to train young people urgently in counseling before sending them to the villages."

Interviewed by ENI at his diocesan office in Ahmedabad, capital city of Gujarat, Bishop Malaviya said that he had witnessed much of the destruction in a trip home after a church meeting on the day the earthquake occurred. He said he had been particularly shocked by "the total devastation in Bhachau town," not far from the epicenter of the earthquake.

"I stopped there and found a man desperately searching among the rubble," the bishop said. "He told me he was looking for a glass to get some water. He had just returned from cremating his three children. When I touched his shoulder, he leaned on to me and wept for several minutes."

The earthquake, which is now estimated to have measured 8.1 on the Richter scale, caused widespread destruction in Gujarat, especially in the district of Kutch bordering Pakistan. While the state government puts the death toll at 35,000, social workers and independent observers claim the figure is more than 100,000.

Major townships in the region like Bhuj, Anjar, Bhachau and Gandhidham were worst hit, while most of the 900 villages in the district were reduced to rubble.

Thousands of bodies are still buried under debris, but many villages have not even been visited by rescue workers. Although it is most unlikely ...

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