"It was with deep sadness that I learned of yesterday's earthquake in South Asia, which caused such great damage and loss of life in Pakistan, India and Afghanistan," the Pope said in English after reciting the Angelus today with crowds gathered in St. Peter's Square.
Benedict XVI commended "to God's loving mercy all those who have died" and expressed his "deepest sympathy to the many thousands who are injured or bereaved."
"I pray that the international community will be swift and generous in its response to the disaster and I ask the Lord to grant courage and strength to those involved in the task of rescue work and reconstruction," he concluded.
President Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan appealed for international aid, in the wake of the quake which left 19,000 dead in his country alone. Press reports said the overall death toll could reach 30,000.