As India is faced with an overwhelming second wave of the coronavirus pandemic, ministers from Church of Scotland partner churches are asking for our prayers.

Reverend (Rev) Moumita Biswas, who is based in Calcutta and part of the Church of North India, said that the country had become a "valley of death". 

She said: "We have been in a terrible state for the past two and a half weeks.

"We are in a death-trap now, it has become a valley of death. Before this wave hit we just knew the numbers but now it's our family members, our relatives, our church leaders who have died.

"I have lost four of my relatives to coronavirus and many close colleagues, which has been heartbreaking.

"We need support of food, which churches have been helping to provide. And, of course, prayers."

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Most Rev Dr P. K. Samantaroy, Bishop of Amritsar, said he is grateful for the emails and messages of concern he has received.

He said: "Many of our friends, colleagues and family members have been hospitalised and some have passed away.

"Medical facilities in India, especially in the larger cities, have been under severe strain from the flood of patients and the new more virulent variant of the virus.

"Though the government is encouraging people to be vaccinated, many health centres have run out of vaccines for the second dose.

"There is lack of adequate infrastructure and medical experts in relation to the high number of potential patients needing intensive care.

"There is a severe shortage of hospital beds and oxygen supplies. Not only has this resulted in innumerable deaths, but is also creating conditions for rioting and violence.

"At this time of national distress, we would appreciate your prayers."

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The Church of Scotland is sending an emergency grant of £5,000 to the Church of South India to support their efforts to help people.

Churches in India are supplying people with essentials such as food, masks, hygiene and oxygen supplies as well as trying to ensure those most severely unwell receive medical treatment.

Very Rev Dr Susan Brown, convenor of the Church of Scotland's Faith Impact Forum, said: "The numbers infected and dying in India are staggering.

"Those numbers become all the more tragic when they are given names and faces, as well as life stories.

"These are parents and brothers and sisters and children. For us in the Church of Scotland they are also long-term partners and friends; many who whom are trying their hardest to bring comfort and help to their communities. 

"As elsewhere, it is the poorest who are suffering most. Our hearts go out to the Churches of North and South India in particualr and we encourage people if they can, to donate to the Disasters Emergency Committe appeal."

For further information you can access the India coronavirus appeal here