VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis is praying for the victims of the earthquake that killed 35 and injured 100 in Iran and Pakistan.
“I raise a prayer to God for the victims and for all those who are in pain, and I wish to express my closeness to the Iranian and Pakistani people,” he said during his April 17 general audience at the Vatican.
“I learned with sadness of the violent earthquake that struck the peoples of Iran and Pakistan, bringing death, suffering and destruction,” he said.
The earthquake hit the border of Iran and Pakistan on April 16 at 3:44pm local time.
The 7.8-magnitude earthquake caused 35 deaths in Pakistan’s Baluchistan province, and around 150 have been found injured in both countries so far.
Baluchistan has since been shaken by several strong aftershocks, including one with a magnitude of 5.7.
Tremors were also felt in India and in other Persian Gulf countries on April 16.
Authorities say it was the worst earthquake Iran has seen in 50 years, but it had limited casualties because its epicenter was in a remote region.
It caused 70% of houses to collapse in Mashki, Pakistan, and the country’s military is helping rescue efforts in both countries.
Impacted Iranian cities include Khash, Zahedan, Iranshahr and Saravan.
More than 180,000 people live in Khash, while Saravan has a population of 250,000.
The executive director of Caritas Pakistan, Amjad Gulzar, reported in an April 16 blog post that his Catholic relief group is coordinating with Baluchistan’s Provincial Disaster Management Authority.