INDIA: Seven Adventist Hospital Residents Die, Facilities Damaged, in Recent Flood
ecent heavy monsoon rains in four India states—Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra, and Chhattisgarh—that have left almost 200 dead and some 900,000 people displaced, have also caused death and damage at Adventist institutions in the region. Seven intensive-care patients at the Adventist hospital in Surat, India, died and the facility suffered extensive damage as a result of a flood that hit the city unexpectedly on August 7. A nearby Adventist college and K-12 school also experienced severe damage.
The exceptionally heavy rainfall in the area of Surat, a western India city with a population of about 3 million people, flooded the Ukai Dam, endangering the dam itself. Water released from the dam swelled the Tapti River and flooded the coastal city of Surat. The tide prevented the water from draining into the sea and thus flooded most of the city, with water rising up to as much as 20 feet. It has taken floodwaters several days to recede.
The 250-bed Adventist mission hospital is housed on the same campus as the Adventist college and school, all three merged under the name METAS—Medical Education Trust Association. The campus is located less than a mile from the Tapti River. The flood caught people in the hospital and in homes, but no one was in the college or school buildings, reported Southern Asia Division officials.
Hospital staff initially attempted to stem the water by piling up sandbags, but the rapid rise in water levels from three to nine feet made it necessary to abandon the effort. One doctor remained in the hospital throughout the flooding to attend to the patients, but he and others on the campus, including students, dealt with problems such as no drinking water and little food.
“The officers of the Southern Asia Division are deeply concerned about the loss of life and damage to property that have occurred as a result of heavy monsoon rains and flood conditions,” said D. Ronald Watts, president of the Southern Asia Division. “Our staff members living on the campus at the Surat Adventist hospital and college had to leave their homes without any advance notice. All their possessions, except the clothes they were wearing, were completely destroyed. However, their lives were saved. But elsewhere in the city many lost their lives. We express our heavy anguish over the loss of life in this tragedy. All effort is being exerted to make our hospital operational again so the medical needs of survivors can be cared for.”
The hospital, enlarged and renovated only two years ago, sustained the greatest amount of loss, including damage to four operating theaters, several labs, diagnostic equipment, and a pharmacy. The school and college also sustained ground-floor damage to offices, furniture, and a computer lab. According to Adventist Risk Management, the church’s insurance company, the total damage to the Adventist properties is estimated at more than $3 million.
Two other Adventist schools located in the outskirts of the city were not affected by the flood.
—Southern Asia Division Communication Department/AR.