Pope Benedict prays for victims of Japanese earthquake and tsunami

As Japan continues to be shaken by massive after shocks  and smaller tsunamis today, the Vatican has sent a condolence message to  the country's Roman Catholic Bishops.

In the message, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone writes: "Pope Benedict XVI is 'deeply saddened by the brutal and tragic consequences of the severe earthquake and tsunami that struck north-eastern coastal regions' of Japan.

He added that Pope Benedict was praying for the dead and hoped that their families and friends would find 'strength and consolation'.

The devastation has been so widespread, Church leaders in Japan have been struggling to reach parish communities in the affected areas and have not yet been able to release a statement.

Source: VIS/NHK