After praying the Angelus today in Castel Gandolfo, Pope Benedict XVI asked Christians world-wide to pray and show solidarity to the people of three Asian nations devastated by recent natural disasters. Speaking to thousands of pilgrims gathered in the courtyard, the pontiff said:
“Dear brothers and sisters,My thoughts go at this time to the people of Asia, especially to the Philippines, the People’s Republic of China, hardest hit by violent rains, as well as those of the North-west Iran, hit by a violent earthquake. These events have caused numerous deaths and injuries, thousands of displaced people and extensive damage. I invite you to join me in prayer for those who have lost their lives and for all the people tried by such devastating calamities. May our solidarity and our support not be lacking to these our brothers and sisters.”
The death toll from torrential rains that submerged most of the Philippines capital Manila has risen to 85. Meanwhile a powerful typhoon also blasted China this week, with 120 km an hour winds that battered Shanghai. Dozens of people were killed and nearly two million people were evacuated. However, the largest death toll comes from Iran where twin earthquakes levelled entire villages in the north of the country. The official death toll from the Saturday night quakes is 250 people dead and over 2,000, injured. However according to Iranian state television the number is destined to rise.