VATICAN CITY — Pope John Paul II urged international aid to flood-stricken Mozambique, where thousands were feared dead in the wake of a cyclone.

As aid agencies scrambled to provide emergency food and medical assistance to hundreds of thousands of survivors, the Pope praised the international response but said more was needed.

Speaking at a Sunday blessing March 5, the Holy Father said his thoughts were with “the people of Mozambique, who are experiencing a tragedy of unprecedented proportions caused by the serious flooding that has stricken a vast portion of the country.

“International solidarity has come forth without stop in recent days, but there is still much to do. I encourage everyone to continue generously in the relief efforts, in order to ease the dramatic burden of our brothers.”

The worst areas of flooding were in Mozambique's Limpopo River valley, about 100 miles northeast of the capital, Maputo. Despite deliveries of emergency supplies by helicopter, aid workers said they risked running out of safe water in camps where more than 200,000 people were being temporarily sheltered.

ZENIT, the Rome-based news service, reported that Archbishop Janusz Juliusz, Apostolic Nuncio in Mozambique, said that the “gratitude of the Mozambican people to John Paul II is immense. His appeals and concrete help are an important support in the tragedy afflicting the country.”

On March 7, the Mozambican bishops published a statement expressing their gratitude to the Holy Father for the constant assistance given to the country and his repeated appeals for aid to Mozambique. (From combined wire services)