Fifty years of development work were wiped out in about 90 seconds during the January 26 earthquake in western India, according to World Vision, the international relief and development agency. Rebuilding could take 20 years.

The temblor, which measured 7.9 on the Richter scale, killed tens of thousands of Hindus and Muslims in Gujarat state, which is less than 1 percent Christian. Ahmedabad, a city of more than 2 million people, was hit hard.

"Buildings four, seven, and 12 stories high collapsed like a house of cards," said Rabindran David Shelley, World Relief's India project manager. "In another area, a hospital collapsed, killing the staff and patients."

Bhuj was a city of about 20,0000 people. "Bhuj looks like it took a direct hit in a nuclear attack," said Sanjay Sojwal of World Vision

One relief worker reports that tensions flared between Hindu and Christian groups doing relief work in the days after the quake. The worker says that Hindu groups were attempting to "be in control so that the glory wouldn't go to the Christians." These Hindus, the source notes, resent the favorable publicity Christians received for their humanitarian work in the wake of the "super cyclone" that hit Orissa state on October 29, 1999, killing 10,000 people.

Right-wing Hinduism is very strong in Gujarat, which is over 89 percent Hindu. Christians have been targeted across India by Hindu extremists for the last several years. In the best-known incident, a Hindu mob in Orissa burned to death Australian missionary Graham Staines and his three sons in January 1999.

The All India Christian Council has pledged prayer, money, and expertise in the rebuilding effort, and many other organizations, both Indian and Western, have joined the effort.

Lance Thollander, Christian Aid Mission director for India and Pakistan, is among those appealing for funds. "Indigenous groups are already helping as much as they can," he told Baptist Press, "but they cannot go to their neighbors with aid they don't have."

Related Elsewhere:

Christianity Today has covered some of Gujarat's post-quake response in "Politician Who Saw God's Hand in Gujarat Quake Forced to Resign | Civil aviation minister had told Christians that quake was God's judgment against persecution of Christians."

Other Christianity Today stories about India include:

Christians Hammered by Pre-Christmas Violence | 200 Christians driven from a small town in Gujarat, India, and their church converted into a Hindu temple. (Dec. 22, 2000)
Indian Christian Youth Form Protection Group | Non-violent group aims to counter attacks on Christians through peaceful solidarity. (Nov. 12, 2000)
A Chinese Model for India's Churches? | No thank you, say Indian Christians to Hindu proposal for government church regulation. (Oct. 12, 2000)
U.S. Religious Freedom Commission Criticized | Indian churches reject U.S. inquiry, but Pakistani Christians welcome it. (Oct. 3, 2000)
Plans to Resolve India's Interfaith Tensions Face Delays and Accusations | Did India's National Commission for Minorities plan a meeting to discredit Christians? (July 20, 2000)
India's First Dalit Archbishop Holds 'No Grudge' Over Predecessor's Attack | Once "untouchable" Dalits make up bulk of country's Christians. (May 11, 2000)
India's Christians Resist Move to Register Conversions | State's legislation unconstitutional, says leaders. (May 2, 2000)
Build Bridges, but Fight Fanaticism, India's Churches Told | National Council of churches in India will work against strengthening of caste system. (Mar. 9, 2000)

Other media coverage of India's quake includes:

Rescuers find quake survivorsThe Miami Herald (Feb. 1, 2001)
Official quake toll rises to 120,000The Baltimore Sun (Feb. 1, 2001)
Rescuers Dig for Survivors in IndiaThe Los Angeles Times (Feb. 1, 2001)
Disease Threat Hangs Over Quake Survivors—Yahoo Daily News (Jan. 31, 2001)

Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.

Our digital archives are a work in progress. Let us know if corrections need to be made.