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Pope prays for Italian earthquake victims, especially children
Pope Benedict XVI
Pope Benedict XVI

.- Residents of L'Aquila, Italy are working to recover from a 5.8 magnitude earthquake that has left 92 dead and some 1,500 people injured. Upon hearing of the disaster, Pope Benedict sent a telegram to the local archbishop offering his prayers for the victims and expressing his solidarity.

Italy's largest earthquake since 1997 hit early on Monday morning leveling whole blocks of the 13th- century town L'Aquila as well as surrounding towns and villages. Premier Silvio Berlusconi said on Monday that around 1,500 people were injured and that at least 92 people had died.

''At the moment 4,000 rescuers are at work and concentrating on extracting people from the rubble,'' Berlusconi told journalists.

News of the devastating earthquake reached the Vatican early Monday, prompting Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone to send a telegram in the Pope's name to Archbishop Giuseppe Molinari of L'Aquila.

Upon hearing of the violent earthquake, Cardinal Bertone said that Pope Benedict's heart became filled with "consternation."

In his telegram, the Pope charges Archbishop Molinari with passing on "the expression of his heartfelt participation in the suffering of the beloved people affected by the tragic event. Giving assurances of his fervent prayers for the victims, especially the children."

"His Holiness asks the Lord to bring comfort to their families and, while giving affectionate words of encouragement to the survivors and the people who in various ways are helping in the rescue operations, he sends everyone his special apostolic blessing."

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