Pope grieving for victims of quakes in Turkey and Syria

Pope Francis says he is deeply saddened to learn of the huge loss of life caused by a powerful earthquake that has struck south-eastern Turkey and north-western Syria.

The 7.8 magnitude earthquake rocked wide swaths of the neighbouring countries early Monday morning, toppling hundreds of buildings and killing thousands of people.

Hundreds are still believed to be trapped under the rubble, and the death toll is expected to rise as rescue workers search mounts of wreckage in cities and towns across the area.

In two separate telegrams signed on his behalf by Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Pope offered words of condolence. He asked the apostolic nuncios, Marek Solczynski in Turkey, and Mario Zenari in Syria, to send his assurance of his spiritual closeness to all those affected.

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