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India's COVID crisis now catastrophic, former Midlands couple says

As India faces a life and death situation, Indian natives here in the Midlands say the tragedy they are watching unfold is heartbreaking.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — While cases in America are declining, the COVID outbreak in India continues to worsen. In parts of the country, gravediggers are working overtime to keep up.

As India faces a life and death situation, Indian natives here in the Midlands say the tragedy they are watching unfold is heartbreaking.

Thilak and Liny Pappu say, "We are really broken-hearted to see what is happening in India." The married couple says, "So many of our dear friends died because of COVID."

RELATED: Coronavirus 'swallowing' people in India; crematoriums overwhelmed

The Pappus migrated to America in the 1980's. The pair fell in love in California, then moved to Columbia and now have four grown children.

The husband and wife duo returned to New Delhi, India, but vacation in the Midlands from time to time. On March 15, they returned to Columbia to visit their children. 

They say the scenes in India are horrific. "People are dying on the street." Mr. Pappu says, "There is no place to bury bodies, there is no place to perform the last right."

Credit: AP Photo/Altaf Qadri
Multiple funeral pyres of those who died of COVID-19 burn at a ground that has been converted into a crematorium for the mass cremation of coronavirus victims, in New Delhi, India, Saturday, April 24, 2021, as a second record surge has brought India's tattered healthcare system to its knees.

"We need nurses. We need doctors. We need nurses, we need oxygen. We need help," says Mr Pappu.

According to John Hopkins University and Medicine, there were 3,498 reported deaths in India on April 29 and 386,555 new COVID cases.

Experts believe the death toll could be much higher. Dr. Jane Kelly, Assistant State Epidemiologist with DHEC says the situation is dire.

RELATED: India passes US for most new COVID-19 cases in a single day

"I suspect viruses have been circulating in India, and there have been more deaths in India than we've realized," says Dr. Kelly.

"As much as they do have good science and good medical care available to some, it's certainly not to all and their surveillance system is not as rigorous as ours."

The Pappus will celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary on May 29. They said, "Every time we go to sleep, we don't know if we are going to hear more. Every time the phone rings we get worried."

RELATED: US to restrict travel from India over COVID starting Tuesday

They're pleading for help. As part of their ministry, they created "COVID Care" and are asking for donations to help the people in their community.

To donate you can write a check to "Reach India International Inc." and mail it to John and Ida Mathew, Reach India International Inc., 6115. Decker Road, Bushkill, PA-18324 or you can donate directly online.