Pope prays for victims of Turkey earthquake

Relatives of an earthquake victim are led away from ruins by a policeman, on October 25, 2011 in Van, Turkey. Credit: Ahmad Halabisaz/Getty Images News/Getty Images
Relatives of an earthquake victim are led away from ruins by a policeman, on October 25, 2011 in Van, Turkey. Credit: Ahmad Halabisaz/Getty Images News/Getty Images

.- Pope Benedict XVI has asked for prayers and appealed for aid for the victims of Sunday’s earthquake in Turkey.

“At this time, our thoughts turn to the people of Turkey hard hit by the earthquake, which has caused heavy loss of life, many missing and extensive damage,” the Pope said at his Oct. 26 general audience in Vatican City’s Paul VI Hall.

“I invite you to join me in prayer for those who have lost their lives and to be spiritually close to the many people who have been sorely tried. May the Almighty support all those engaged in rescue work,” he prayed.

The 7.2-magnitude quake killed at least 461 people and injured 1,350 in the Van region, the Associated Press reports. The disaster flattened many buildings and left thousands of people homeless or afraid to return to damaged houses.

At least 20,000 tents have been sent to the quake zone, where the temperature drops below zero at night.

Caritas Turkey reported that the earthquake was “very severe” and the region is not easily accessible. The Catholic organization has already sent 1,200 sleeping bags. It plans to send blankets, coats, plastic sheeting and other items.

The Turkish government originally said Turkey could handle the disaster alone, but it has now asked 30 countries, including Israel, for emergency supplies like prefabricated housing, tents and containers.

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