Pope Urges Help for Quake Victims in Iran

VATICAN CITY, JUNE 23, 2002 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II made an appeal for international aid for the victims of Saturday´s deadly earthquake in northern Iran.

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“I encourage the work of the rescuers and I hope for a rapid and generous show of international solidarity to address this serious situation,” the Holy Father said today, after praying the Angelus with pilgrims gathered in St. Peter´s Square.

The Pontiff assured his prayers “for the victims, their relatives and all those who are suffering the tragic consequences of this earthquake.”

On Saturday, John Paul II expressed his sympathy to the victims´ relatives and to all the peoples affected, in a telegram sent to Archbishop Giovanni Gaspari, the apostolic nuncio in Tehran.

The death toll stood at 220, fewer than first feared, the Associated Press reported. About 1,000 people were injured, and thousands more left homeless. The epicenter of the magnitude-6 quake was in the province of Qazvin, about 130 miles (208 kilometers) west of Tehran.

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