The Vatican on Thursday sent a telegram to the president of Taiwan’s bishops’ conference in which Pope Francis expressed his sadness and solidarity after a Wednesday morning earthquake left several dead and more than 1,000 injured. 

“His Holiness Pope Francis was deeply saddened to learn of the loss of life and damage caused by the earthquake in Taiwan,” read the telegram, which was signed by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin. 

The Holy Father “assures everyone affected by this disaster of his heartfelt solidarity and spiritual closeness,” the telegram said.

“Pope Francis likewise prays for the dead, the injured, and all those displaced as well as for the emergency personnel engaged in recovery efforts and invokes upon all the divine blessings of consolation and strength,” the message added.

A 7.4-magnitude earthquake struck Hualien County on the island’s eastern coast at approximately 8 a.m. local time on Wednesday. It was the strongest to hit the island in 25 years. 

According to Taiwan’s National Fire Agency, the death toll has now risen to 10, while the number of injured persons has surpassed 1,000. More than 600 people, mostly miners and hotel workers, reportedly remain stranded in remote areas. 

Bishop Philip Huang Chao-ming of the Diocese of Hualien published an announcement on the diocesan website reporting that there has been no loss of life nor major damage of the parishes in the diocese. 

“The diocese immediately contacted all parishes to express condolences and offer care. There have been no reports of serious damage at this time, except for some parishes where items have fallen or are damaged and need to be repaired,” the statement read. 

The quake, which struck 90 miles from the capital Taipei, triggered tsunami warnings in China, Japan, and the Philippines, though those warnings have since been lifted. 

More in Asia - Pacific

Huang also warned parishioners “to continue to remain vigilant” and to “seek refuge in open spaces” after more than 300 aftershocks have precipitated landslides across Hualien County. 

Bishop Ruperto Santos, head of the Diocese of Antipolo and vice chairman of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines’ Episcopal Commission for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People, expressed his solidarity with Taiwan, where an estimated 160,000 Filipinos reside.

“We are also worried about their well-being and welfare. We are one and united with them, especially with Filipino migrants,” Santos said in a statement issued on Thursday. “We pray for them, and we have asked our Filipino chaplains to offer holy Masses.”