Archbishop of Liverpool visits Iranian earthquake zone

 The Archbishop of Liverpool, the Most Reverend Patrick Kelly, has visited the Iranian City of Bam which was devastated by an earthquake on Friday 26 December 2003. The Archbishop who is on a pastoral visit to Iran as part of a delegation from the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales travelled to the City on Monday and returning to the capital, Tehran, yesterday. Archbishop Kelly said: "The scenes of devastation are so horrendous that after a time you feel that it must be a film set; the extent of the damage is such that we drove for over half an hour seeing only ruins and tented villages. The scale of the disaster is almost beyond comprehension with half the population being killed and hospitals and schools being left with only half their staff and resources. We must remember the people and their region in prayer and offer support in whatever way we can." Whilst in the City the Archbishop met many of the survivors of the disaster and was introduced to them by Sister Josephine, an Italian Sister from the Order of the Daughters of Charity, who has worked in Iran for many years. He was struck by the dignity of people who had lost virtually everything and said: "We visited a tented city, each person had lost five or six close relatives in the earthquake, and although reduced to such basic living they had no hesitation in inviting us in to take tea with them.' Archbishop Kelly also met with Ali Shafiee, the Governor of Bam, and was told of the immediate reaction to the disaster and the longer-term challenges of relief and rebuilding. They also discussed the work being done by the Catholic Aid Organisations CARITAS IRAN and CAFOD. The Archbishop also sampled the enduring sense of humour of the people of Bam: "When they heard that I was from Liverpool, they were insistent on telling me that they all supported Manchester United; yet a short distance away I heard another voice say: "Ah...Michael Owen" and another: "Everton"!.

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