VATICAN CITY, FEB. 19, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI expressed again his closeness and prayer for those suffering from the deadly mudslide in the Philippines.
The Pope referred to the Asian tragedy today when he greeted English-speaking pilgrims, after reciting the Angelus with the faithful in St. Peter's Square.
"In a special way our hearts turn to all those suffering the devastating consequences of the landslide in the Philippines," the Holy Father said.
"I ask you to join me in praying for the victims, their loved ones and all those affected," he exhorted the pilgrims. "May the grieving families experience the consolation of the Lord's presence and rescue workers be assured of our concern and support."
On Friday, when he learned about the tragedy, the Pope sent a message of sympathy and solidarity to the Philippine people.
The Catholic confederation Caritas Internationalis began to send aid immediately.
The entire village of Guinsaugon, near the city of St. Bernard, on Leyte island, was buried under mud on Friday morning. Other villages suffered serious damages from the landslide. Authorities have confirmed 72 deaths. Another 1,800 people are missing and presumed dead.
The gigantic mudslide -- partial collapse of an adjacent mountain -- covered the island and buried hundreds of buildings.
The earth was soft after two weeks of rain. A similar incident occurred two years ago, which left 200 dead.
On Saturday, the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions reported on the ongoing rescue work in Leyte, a race against the clock to clear the mud that covered an elementary school where more than 200 children and 40 teachers were "buried alive," as reported in a message sent by the school's director on his mobile phone.
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