Pope appeals for help for victims of Typhoon Rai in the Philippines
By Linda Bordoni
“I express my closeness to the population of the Philippines, struck by a strong typhoon” Pope Francis said, invoking the “Santo Niño”, bringer of consolation and hope.
Speaking after the Sunday Angelus in St. Peter’s Square, the Pope turned his thoughts to Filipinos struck by Typhoon Rai, the strongest typhoon to batter the country this year. The death toll from the flooding, landslides, and collapsing trees caused by the typhoon, currently stands at 146, but scores of people are still missing.
Asking for prayers, the Pope said “May the Santo Niño bring consolation and hope to the families in difficulty, and inspire in us the need to offer concrete help.”
In the Philippines rescue operations are underway and the government’s disaster-response agency is trying to secure food packs and drinking water for citizens following the destruction wrought by the typhoon in central island provinces on Thursday and Friday. At its strongest, Typhoon Rai packed sustained winds of 195 kilometers per hour and gusts of up to 270 kph, making it one of the most powerful in recent years to hit the disaster-prone archipelago, which lies between the Pacific Ocean and the South China Sea.
Villages have been washed away in flash floods or buried by landslides, roofs of houses and shelters have been ripped off and at least 227 cities and towns lost electricity, which has since been restored in only 21 areas.