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Pope prays for calamity victims in Asia and Iran

VATICAN (SE): Two countries in Asia, as well as Iran were battered in the week beginning on August 6, as extreme climactic conditions left much of the Philippine capital, Manila, under water and the population of Shanghai, in the People’s Republic of China, sheltering from 120 kilometre-an-hour winds.

However, the greatest devastation was in northern Iran, where over 250 people died and over 2,000 were injured in twin earthquakes that hit the city of Tabriz and the villages of Ahar, Haris and Varaqan, in East Azerbaijan province on August 11.

Vatican Radio reported that Pope Benedict XVI asked Christians worldwide to pray for the victims of the three disasters in an appeal at his midday Marian prayer on August 12.

“Dear brothers and sisters, my thoughts go at this time to the people of Asia, especially to The Philippines, the People’s Republic of China, hardest hit by violent rains, as well as those of north-west Iran, hit by a violent earthquake,” the pope said.

“These events have caused numerous deaths and injuries, thousands of displaced people and extensive damage. I invite you to join me in prayer for those who have lost their lives and for all the people tried by such devastating calamities. May our solidarity and our support not be lacking to these our brothers and sisters,” he continued.

To date at least 93 people have died around the Manila area as a result of the city’s inability to drain the heavy rainfall that fell on the island of Luzon.

A powerful typhoon also blasted China, leaving some people dead. As a safeguard, the authorities evacuated over two million people from their homes before the height of the storm hit.

While an official list of death and injuries has been drawn up in the wake of the twin earthquakes in Iran, state television announced that the numbers are rising as rescue workers continue to sift through the rubble of collapsed buildings.

Some 36 aftershocks jolted the same area and were felt across the Caspian Sea area.

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