04/05/2024, 16.08
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Francis prays for Taiwan quake victims and survivors

In a telegram signed by Card Parolin, the pontiff assures "heartfelt solidarity and spiritual closeness" to the affected population. The latest death toll now stands at 12, but more could be added in the coming days. Rescuers found most of the missing and displaced, including 400 people stuck in a luxury hotel in the Taroko Gorges National Park.

Taipei (AsiaNews) – Pope Francis expressed his closeness, solidarity, and condolences for those affected by the earthquake of 3 April in a telegram signed by the Secretary of State Card Pietro Parolin sent to Bishop John Baptist Lee Keh-mean, president of the Chinese Regional Bishops' Conference (CRBC).

In the message, the pontiff offered his prayers to the victims, the injured, all those displaced and to the emergency personnel and rescuers “engaged in the recovery efforts” to find survivors and missing persons, most of whom have already been reported safe.

The telegram also reads that the pope was "deeply saddened” by the loss of life and damages caused by the quake, and “assures everyone affected by this disaster of his heartfelt solidarity and spiritual closeness”, invoking “upon all the divine blessing of consolation and strength.”

Meanwhile, Taiwanese officials said that at least 12 people were killed and more than a thousand injured by the 7.4-magnitude earthquake that struck the island two days ago at 8 am local time.

Multiple aftershocks followed, including a magnitude of 6.4 tremor; still more are expected in the coming days.

As the earth continues to shake, about 50 tremors were reported overnight in the worst-hit area, Hualien province, but some were felt in Taipei.

Meanwhile, rescue teams reported that at least 400 people isolated at a luxury hotel in Taroko Gorges National Park are now safe, while helicopters busy ferrying out the wounded and delivering supplies.

About 50 workers stuck on the road leading to the hotel were also rescued.

Taiwan's fire department said two bodies were found in the mountains, but needed to confirm their identities before updating the death toll.

Some 113 people are missing, including three foreign nationals from Australia and Canada.

Experts and volunteers continue to arrive in the worst-hit area, while senior political officials, including President Tsai Ing-wen, plan to donate a month's salary to relief efforts.

Japan also announced a US million in aid to Taiwan for rescue and recovery effort, its Foreign Minister Yoko Kamikawa said.

The island of Taiwan is located near the junction of two tectonic plates and is prone to earthquakes, although the number of victims this time was far lower than in the recent past.

More than 100 people died in a 2016, when an earthquake struck the south of the country, while a 7.3 magnitude quake killed more than 2,000 in 1999.

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