Lancaster priest learns his family is safe after tsunami hits

December 30, 2004|BOBBIE CURD

LANCASTER - Father Thobias Sabariar, a priest with St. William Catholic Church since July, was relieved Tuesday to hear his brother on the other end of the telephone line.

"I prayed all night Sunday and Monday, and finally was able to talk to him sometime after 10 Tuesday morning," Sabariar said, adding that he was happy to hear his brother's voice and find out his family in India is alive.

Sabariar has been in Kentucky for seven years now but doesn't recall ever feeling as panic stricken about what was happening in his native home of India as he did this week.

"The tsunami actually hit parts of India just as hard as Thailand," Sabariar said.

The area his family lives in, a district in Tamilnadu, is on the extreme southern most tip of India. Sabariar said it is a 45-minute boat trip to Sri Lanka from the area where his family lives.


His brother, sister-in-law and their child were caught out in the abrupt storm over the holiday while visiting friends and relatives.

"Because the storm happened so quickly, no one could be warned," Sabariar said.

Fortunately, his family found refuge in a nearby church and hostel.

"The church actually sheltered 1,500 people for 12 hours during the storm, and I am very thankful that my brother's family was three of those being saved," Sabariar said.

Sabariar said his brother described a horrendous, loud noise, followed by one powerful wave after another hitting the town.

"People were shocked when the first wave hit," Sabariar said.

Sabariar described a large area of Tamilnadu as coastal fishing towns, where many villages are located right on the shore.

"Also, because the water level rises so high, it attracted many to the shore to see what was going on. They had no idea what was to come," Sabariar said, adding that many do not realize the power behind a storm such as this one.

Sabariar's family's home was not destroyed during the storm, nor was the town evacuated.

"After their time in the church, they were able to return home safely."

Tsunamis can be caused by earthquakes, landslides, volcanic eruptions, explosions, and even the impact of cosmic bodies, such as meteorites, can generate them.

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