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Pope Francis prays for earthquake victims

More than 260 people have died, mostly in Pakistan, after a magnitude-7.5 earthquake hit north-eastern Afghanistan. Pope Francis was greatly distressed to learn of the dreadful loss of lives in Afghanistan and Pakistan as a result of the earthquake in the region.

The Pope expressed his sorrow conveyed through a telegram sent to Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, addressed to Archbishop Ghaleb Moussa Abdalla Bader, the Apostolic Nuncio to Pakistan.

Signed by the Vatican’s Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the letter conveyed the Pope’s “heartfelt solidarity with all those affected by this disaster,” and assured Francis’ prayers for the dead, injured, and those still missing.

“Upon all those who mourn the loss of loved ones and upon the civil authorities and emergency personnel involved in the relief efforts, Pope Francis invokes the divine blessings of consolation and strength,” he added”

At least 12 of the victims were Afghan schoolgirls  killed in a crush while trying to escape from their school building in Taloqan, north-east Afghanistan, and six people died in the eastern province of Nangarhar. A police official in Badakhshan said dozens of houses were destroyed in two remote and sparsely populated rural districts, with some damage reported in Fayzabad.

Tremors from the quake were also felt in northern India and Tajikistan.The earthquake was centered in the mountainous Hindu Kush region, 76km (45 miles) south of Faizabad, the US Geological Survey reported.

The death toll is set to rise as the most severely affected areas are very remote and communications have been cut off.

In Pakistan, the death toll has risen to at least 214, in the northern mountainous areas.

In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province alone, authorities said at least 179 people were known to have died, and more than 1,800 were injured.BBC reports



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