WENZHOU, CHINA – Catholics in Wenzhou as well as the Church-run Jinde Charities are joining forces to provide counselling and aid to survivors and family members of victims in China’s worst train disaster since 2008.

On July 23, a bullet train slammed into another express that had lost power after a lightning strike. The impact of the crash sent four carriages over the edge of a viaduct, crashing to the ground below, and derailed two others.

The accident, on the outskirt of Wenzhou city in Zhejiang province, has so far killed at least 40 people and injured many others.

Fr Ma Xianshi of Wenzhou said that a nun and several laypeople had gone to Wenzhou No. 3 and No. 8 hospitals on July 24 to console victims and to pray for them.

They also made a preliminary assessment of the situation to see how the Church can help, he said.

On July 25, Sr Li Haiyin of Jinde Charities in Hebei province flew to Wenzhou with two other nuns to offer professional counselling.

The nuns have had experience in counselling victims of the earthquakes in Sichuan in 2008 and in Qinghai province in 2010.

Fr Ma has also appealed to local Catholics to donate blood.

In the same diocese, Coadjutor Bishop Peter Shao Zhumin, who manages the underground Catholic community, expressed his “profound sadness” at the accident.

He said he instructed all parishes to pray for the victims and the dead during Sunday Masses and called on Catholics to volunteer to help victims overcome their trauma.

In 2008, an express train bound for the eastern city of Qingdao from Beijing derailed and collided with another train killing 72 people and injuring more than 400.