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Dutch priest, Indian nun rescued from floodwaters

Two priests still missing, but believed safe, Church officials say
Indian army personnel have rescued an 80-year-old Dutch missionary priest and an Indian nun from their residences in the Kashmir area of northern India, where floodwaters have killed at least 200 people and displaced tens of thousands.

Mill Hill Fr Jim Borst, who has served in the Kashmir Valley for 50 years, was moved to New Delhi. He was rescued along with Good Shepherd Sister Veronica Tytler, 39, principal of the Good Shepherd Catholic school in Pulwama.

The nun told ucanews.com that both are "still recovering from the trauma of seeing death about to swallow us".

"Within half an hour, about ten feet [three meters] of water filled the ground floor. From the window of the [upper] floor, we could see water rising steadily, all the time fearing that any time we would be engulfed in the fury of the flood," she said.

Sister Tytler said she rushed to Fr Borst's Srinagar residence, less than 100 meters from the overflowing Jhelum River, late on September 7, urging the priest "to take his passport and come up to the first floor quickly as water would soon enter his room".

Father Borst said the pair were trapped in a second-story room until six am on Monday.

"We saw in front of our eyes, houses collapsing and people and animals, both dead and alive, household goods just being washed away. The screaming of children and women was heartrending," he said.

Sister Tytler said heavy rains caused the river's banks to give way. "The whole area was under water within minutes … giving little chance for anyone to escape," she said.

By midday the pair were spotted by an army boat patrol, who transported them to safety.

Father Dominic C. of Jammu told ucanews.com that two priests in Srinagar still remain unaccounted for, but that the Church believes they are safe.

"A new pastoral center was built recently. We presume that they must be on the [upper] floor of the new building which is strong enough to withstand such situations," the priest said.

 

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