Pope, saddened by earthquake, cancels speech to pray for victims

Reuters , Wednesday 24 Aug 2016

Pope Francis
Pope Francis reads his condolences for the victims of the earthquake in central Italy during his weekly general audience on August 24, 2016 in St Peter's square at the Vatican (Photo: AFP)

Pope Francis, saddened by an earthquake that struck central Italy overnight, on Wednesday cancelled a speech he was to have given at his general audience and instead prayed with the crowd for victims and survivors.

"Hearing the mayor of Amatrice say that the town no longer exists and hearing that there are children among the victims, I am deeply saddened," he told tens of thousands of people who had gathered in St. Peter's Square for his general audience.

Amatrice was one of the mountain towns hit by the quake. At least 20 people were believed to have died in the disaster, with many dozens still missing.

Francis said he would postpone his weekly address on religious teachings until next week and asked the crowd to pray with him for the victims of the quake.

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