12/01/2006, 00.00
VATICAN – PHILIPPINES
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A "saddened" Pope prays for victims of typhoon Durian

Benedict XVI sends a telegram to Apostolic Nuncio Filoni expressing his sorrow. Death toll continues to rise reaching 350.

Rome (AsiaNews) – In a telegram sent to Mgr Fernando Filoni, Apostolic Nuncio, on behalf of the Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone, the Pope said that he was "deeply saddened" by the tragedy caused by typhoon Durian which recently struck the eastern Philippines and "assures all affected of his closeness in prayer".

The death toll stands at 350 for now.

The Holy Father "commends the deceased to the loving mercy of almighty god, and upon their grieving families and all those injured he invokes divine strength and comfort."

The Pontiff, the telegram says, "likewise prays for the rescue workers and all involved in providing practical assistance to the victims of this disaster, encouraging them to persevere in their efforts to bring relief and support."

The typhoon that struck the country was category 5, the maximum. As it passed over the country Mayon Volcano, 320 kilometres south of Manila, became active again spewing dust, mud and stones.

Two local villages were covered but at least other five villages were affected.

The number of known dead stands at 350 but rescuers is pessimistic.

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