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Pope Prays for Turkey Earthquake Victims (1566)

Benedict XVI: 'I invite you to join me in prayer for those who have lost their lives and to be spiritually close to the many people who have been sorely tried. May the Almighty support all those engaged in rescue work.'

10/27/2011 Comment
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VATICAN CITY (CNA)—Pope Benedict XVI has asked for prayers and appealed for aid for the victims of Sunday’s earthquake in Turkey.

“At this time, our thoughts turn to the people of Turkey hard hit by the earthquake, which has caused heavy loss of life, many missing and extensive damage,” the Pope said at his Oct. 26 general audience in Vatican City’s Paul VI Hall.

“I invite you to join me in prayer for those who have lost their lives and to be spiritually close to the many people who have been sorely tried. May the Almighty support all those engaged in rescue work,” he prayed.

The 7.2-magnitude quake killed at least 461 people and injured 1,350 in the Van region, The Associated Press reported. The disaster flattened many buildings and left thousands of people homeless or afraid to return to damaged houses.

At least 20,000 tents have been sent to the quake zone, where the temperature drops below zero at night.

Caritas Turkey reported that the earthquake was “very severe” and the region is not easily accessible. The Catholic organization has already sent 1,200 sleeping bags. It plans to send blankets, coats, plastic sheeting and other items.

The Turkish government originally said Turkey could handle the disaster alone, but it has now asked 30 countries, including Israel, for emergency supplies like prefabricated housing, tents and containers.

A 14-day-old baby was found alive amid the rubble of her home 46 hours after the quake.

The baby was found in the arms of her mother, who also survived the quake but was trapped in her apartment. Rescuers found the mother clutching her baby as well as the baby’s grandmother, who also survived.  There was no word on the whereabouts of the father, who was also in the building at the time the earthquake struck on Oct. 23.

Sevim Yigit, the baby’s grandmother, told Reuters, “I am overwhelmed; that’s all I can say. May God protect them.”

She added that the baby, named Azra, was born two weeks ago.

Rescue workers applauded as the baby was lifted out of the rubble, and family members quickly surrounded her as she was loaded into an ambulance.

A number of families were trapped in the building when it collapsed.  “We were waiting for 48 hours,” said one teen, whose mother is still missing.  “I hope my mother and my aunt are found as well.”

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