In the early morning on January 26, 2001 a violent earthquake took place in the western part of India, in the state of Gujarat. The earthquake was so strong that it was felt across all of India, from the Himalayan mountains in the north, down to the south shores and to the east.
Initially, the news agencies reported 500 victims. Then, day by day and hour by hour, the numbers of dead kept rising as a result of what was described as the worst earthquake in India in the past 50 years. A week after the earthquake, the Indian Minister of Defense estimated that the number of dead may eventually reach 100,000.
The Indian Prime Minister Vajpayee directed the Army and Air Force to take part in the massive rescue operations, aimed at assisting more than 500,000 people who lost their homes and were sleeping at freezing temperatures in the open air. Damages in Gujarat are estimated at over $3 billion.
The governments of a number of countries such as Germany, United States, Great Britain, Italy and the European Union were among the first ones to provide assistance.
Many American and Canadian friends have been calling about what they can do to help in this catastrophe.
This is what information we can give you at this time:
1) Swami Veda Bharati's thoughts and prayers are very much with all those associated with this unfortunate incident.
2) The Swami Rama Hospital in Dehra Dun and the Swami Rama Ashram in Rishikesh have contributed over 600,000 rupees (about $ 20,000) in the first days. The money is distributed through the Prime Minister's Relief Fund to assure the money is spent where it is most urgently needed.
3) The need right now is not for rescue and remedy, but for rehabilitation.
4) If you like to make a donation for the victims of the earthquake, please send them to Swami Veda's American headquarters at:
631 University Avenue N.E.
Minneapolis, MN 55413
Attn. Earthquake Relief Fund
From there the funds will be sent to Swami Rama's Ashram in Rishikesh, and then distributed through the Prime Minister's Relief Fund.
Also remember that the purchasing power of the US dollar is high in India, and even modest contributions will provide some relief to those who lost all their property in this natural catastrophe.
Thank you and God bless you.
Consul John Zavrel
Director, Rishikesh Foundation
February 8, 2001