Pope Appeals for Aid for Victims of Rains in Bolivia

VATICAN CITY, FEB. 22, 2002 (Zenit.org).- In the middle of his Spiritual Exercises, John Paul II appealed for aid for the victims of torrential rains that pounded the Bolivian capital this week. The death toll from the powerful storms reached 69.

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In a message sent Thursday to Archbishop Edmundo Abastoflor Montero of La Paz, the Holy Father called on public institutions and people of good will “to offer effective assistance solicitously to those affected, in a spirit of charity and fraternal solidarity.”

In the telegram, sent on behalf of the Pope by Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Vatican secretary of state, the Pontiff asked Archbishop Abastoflor “to express his sincere sympathy to the relatives of the victims.” John Paul II also expressed his “sentiments of paternal spiritual closeness to those who have been deprived of their homes.”

On Thursday, bulldozers cleared mud from the streets, and rescue workers pulled bodies from swollen rivers around Bolivia´s capital.

Mayor Juan del Granado said that another 150 people were injured and 122 families who lost their homes were sheltered at the city´s main soccer stadium, according to the Associated Press. He put the damage from Tuesday´s storms at $60 million, AP said.

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