As another powerful 6.7 aftershock hits on Sunday morning
VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis on Sunday prayed for the victims of a devastating earthquake that hit the South Asian country of Nepal.
After reciting the Regina Caeli at noon with faithful and pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square, Pope Francis said from the window of his study in the Apostolic Palace: “I wish to assure my closeness to the peoples hit by the strong earthquake in Nepal and the neighboring countries.”
“I pray for the victims, the wounded, and for all those who are suffering on account of this calamity. May they have the support of fraternal solidarity,” he added, leading those gathered in praying a Hail Mary for all those affected.
The massive quake, which measured 7.9 on the Richter Scale, shook Nepal just before noon on Saturday, causing major damage to the densely-populated Kathmandu Valley, though tremors could be felt as far away as New Delhi in neighboring India.
The quake toppled several historic temples temple, split roads, and razed houses and buildings.
It also triggered avalanches in the Mount Everest region of the Himalayas that buried part of the base camp packed with foreign climbers preparing to make their summit attempts. At least 17 people have died there and 61 were injured.
The violent shocks are not over, however. On Sunday a powerful magnitude 6.7 aftershock again hit the Kathmandu region of Nepal.
“The aftershocks keep coming, Sanjay Karki, Nepal country head for globale aid agency Mercy Corps, told Fox News on Sunday.
“All the open spaces in Kathmandu are packed with people who are camping outdoors. When the aftershocks come you cannot imagine the fear. You can hear women and children crying.”
Fr. Pius Perumana, an aid worker from Caritas Nepal in Kathmandu, told Vatican Radio: “I managed to reach Kathmandu, though the roads were blocked. They are still searching for survivors. The reports are still coming in…The picture is not very clear.”
This is the second-worst earthquake to hit the South Asian nation since 1934, when an 8.0-magnitude quake destroyed three cities: Kathmandu, Bhaktapur and Patan.
Pope Francis’ remarks at Sunday’s Regina Caeli come after Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Saturday sent a telegram on behalf of the Pope to Bishop of the Apostolic Vicariate of Nepal, Paul Simick, which read:
“His Holiness Pope Francis was deeply saddened to learn of the earthquake and the resultant loss of many hundreds of lives in Nepal, as well as in neighboring Countries. He expresses his solidarity with all affected by this disaster and assures those who grieve for deceased family members of his closeness in prayer. His Holiness commends the souls of the victims to the loving mercy of the Almighty and he offers encouragement to the civil authorities and emergency personnel as they continue their rescue efforts and assistance to those touched by this tragedy. Upon them all he invokes the blessings of the Almighty as a pledge of healing and consolation.”
Diane Montagna is Rome correspondent for Aleteia’s English edition.