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Pope Francis calls for prayers after devastating earthquakes in Turkey and Syria

By Bongiwe Zwane-Maseko

Pope Francis and local Church leaders on Monday reacted with dismay and calls for prayer following a devastating earthquake in Turkey and Syria.

The series of earthquakes — up to 7.8 magnitude — killed about 1,700 people and injured thousands more, with many people still trapped under the rubble Monday. Figures were expected to grow in the coming hours.

The U.S. Geological Survey reported the overnight quake struck at a depth of 11 miles. According to the Catholic News Agency (CNA), a deeply saddened Pope Francis sent heartfelt condolences to those who mourn their loss in telegrams addressed to the apostolic nuncios of Turkey and Syria.

The telegrams — signed by the Vatican secretary of state, Cardinal Pietro Parolin — said Pope Francis prayed “that the emergency personnel will be sustained in their care of the injured and the ongoing relief efforts by the divine gifts of fortitude and perseverance”.

The pope also affirmed “his spiritual solidarity” with the “long-suffering Syrian people”.

In Syria, which has been ravaged by more than a decade of civil war, countless buildings collapsed including several Catholic churches, reported ACI MENA, CNA’s Arabic-language partner agency.

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