Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone has sent a telegram, in Pope Benedict’s name, to Archbishop Paul Zinghtung Grawng of Mandalay, and president of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Myanmar. The Holy Father assured the people of Myanmar of his prayers for peace and strength as the death toll from Cyclone Nargis continues to rise.
“Deeply saddened by news of the tragic aftermath of the recent cyclone, the Holy Father expresses his heartfelt sympathy. With prayers for the victims and their families, he invokes God's peace upon the dead and divine strength and comfort upon the homeless and all who are suffering. Confident that the international community will respond with generous and effective relief to the needs of your countrymen, His Holiness asks you to convey his solidarity and concern to the civil authorities and to all the beloved people of Myanmar.”
According to CNN, a Myanmar government radio station has reported that the death toll has exceeded 22,000 with 41,000 additional people reported missing after Cyclone Nargis hit the Southeast Asian country with wind speeds nearing 120 miles per hour on Friday night.
While the country has asked for aid, U.N. groups have not yet been able to acquire visas to enter the country. Bush stated that the U.S. Navy is prepared to offer assistance when the Myanmar government allows them into the country.