Pope expresses 'deep grief and closeness' to people affected by Italian earthquake

 Pope Benedict XVI has expressed his deep grief and closeness to the people affected by the earthquake that hit central Italy yesterday.

A telegram sent to the Archbishop of Aquila, in the Abruzzo region, Monsignor Giuseppe Molinari, by Vatican State Secretary Tarcisio Bertone, reads: "The dramatic news of the violent earthquake that hit the territory of this diocese filled the soul of the Pontiff with grief, who asks Your Excellency to express his deep participation in the grief of the dear populations struck by the tragic event. In ensuring fervent prayers for the victims, especially the children, the Holy Father invokes the comfort of the Lord for their loved ones, and while addressing an affectionate word of encouragement to the survivors and all engaged in rescue operations, sends all the special apostolic blessing".

According to the Italian ANSA news agency, the quake killed at least 27 people and causing numerous buildings to collapse, especially in the main city Aquila. Also the Diocesan Caritas of Rome is engaged in solidarity operations in these hours, setting up a special fund and money collection to confront the emergency.

Source: VIS/ANSA