Benedict XVI Praying for Victims of Floods and Fires

VATICAN CITY, AUG. 24, 2005 ( Benedict XVI expressed sympathy with populations affected by floods and forest fires in Europe.

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Addressing 7,000 people gathered at today’s general audience in Paul VI Hall, the Pope mentioned the disasters which “unfortunately, have caused victims and considerable damages.”

“Many families have been left homeless and hundreds of people have to face tragic difficulties,” the Holy Father said.

“While I invoke from the Lord the eternal reward for those who have lost their lives, I assure my spiritual closeness in affection and prayer to those who have been tested by these grave events, trusting that they will be supported by common solidarity,” he concluded.

Torrential rains have left at least 25 dead in Romania and eight in Austria and Switzerland. Those countries, along with Germany, have also suffered considerable material damage.

Meanwhile, deadly forest fires have broken out, especially in Portugal, Spain and France.

Two people succumbed in Portugal on Monday, raising to 16 this year’s death toll from forest fires in Europe. The worst accident took place in Spain on July 17, when a fire in the province of Guadalajara ended the lives of 11 firefighters.

Forest fires in Spain and Portugal were still raging today.

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