at least 16 dead after 6.5 magnitude earthquake hits Ecuador and Peru at least 16 dead after 6.5 magnitude earthquake hits Ecuador and Peru  (ANSA)

Pope close to quake-struck Ecuador

Pope Francis expresses closeness to those affected by a powerful earthquake in Ecuador and prays for the victims. During the Angelus he also asks for prayers for war-ton Ukraine and greets dads celebrating "Fathers' Day".

By Linda Bordoni

Pope Francis said he is praying for the victims of a strong earthquake that shook southern Ecuador and northern Peru on Saturday night.

The 6.8 magnitude quake has killed at least 16 people and left others trapped under rubble. An estimated 381 people were injured in the quake.

Speaking during the Angelus address on Sunday, the Pope said he is close to the people of Ecuador and he assured his prayers for all those who have died or are injured.

The Saturday night quake also brought down homes and buildings from coastal areas to the highlands.

Observers note the buildings that crumbled, were overwhelmingly inhabited by poor people and were old and did not meet building standards in the earthquake-prone country.

The tremor, centered just off the Pacific Coast, was about 80 kilometers south of Guayaquil, Ecuador's second-largest city.

Ecuador's emergency response agency reported that several people remain trapped under rubble.

Ecuador is particularly prone to earthquakes. In 2016, a quake centered farther north on the Pacific Coast in a more sparsely populated area of the country killed more than 600 people. In Peru, the earthquake was felt from its northern border with Ecuador to the central Pacific coast.

Authorities in Peru reported one death and said homes were destroyed and the old walls of an Army barracks collapsed in Tumbes.

Prayers for Ukraine

And as has become a tradition during his Angelus addresses and during the weekly General Audiences, Pope Francis turned his thoughts to war-torn Ukraine and reminded all men and women of goodwill to join in prayer for the tormented nation,.

"Let's not forget to pray for the martyred Ukrainian people that continue to suffer for the crimes of war," he said.

Father's Day

Finally, having noted the many different national flags in St. Peter's Square representing groups of pilgrims and visitors from all over the world, the Pope said: "Today we greet all fathers":

“May they find in St. Joseph the model, the support, the comfort to live their fatherhood well.”

All together, for fathers, he concluded, let us pray to the Father: "Our Father who art in heaven..."

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19 March 2023, 12:29