.- A 7.1 magnitude earthquake struck western China on Wednesday morning, leaving hundreds dead and thousands injured. The Holy Father called for solidarity for the victims at the Wednesday General Audience, praying for the relief of suffering.
“My thoughts go out to China and the populations hit by a strong earthquake, which caused numerous losses of human lives, injuries and great damage,” said Pope Benedict after the Wednesday's catechesis in St. Peter's Square.
The earthquake shook the city of Gyegu in the Qinghai Province at 7:49 a.m. and destroyed 85 percent of its buildings, according to the Xinhua news agency and the China Earthquake Networks Center. Approximately 400 people are feared dead and around 10,000 are thought to be injured. The population of the city is reportedly around 100,000 people.
Benedict XVI assured the victims of his prayers, adding that he is "spiritually close to the people tested by such a serious calamity."
For their intentions, he said, "I beg from God relief in their suffering and courage in this adversity.” The Pope added that he hopes "common solidarity" will not be lacking.
Caritas Internationalis reported that immediate needs for the victims include shelter, medical supplies and staff. They expressed their support for Jinde Charities, which is in the process of assessing the situation through the local Church in order to mobilize aid efforts.