Papal Sympathy for Victims of Turkish Quake

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VATICAN CITY, FEB. 4, 2002 ( John Paul II expressed his sympathy publicly today for the victims of the weekend earthquake that struck western Turkey.

"Informed about the tragic consequences of the earthquake that occurred in the Bolvadin region, the Holy Father entrusts the victims of this catastrophe to the mercy of the Almighty," Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Vatican Secretary of States, said in a telegram.

In the telegram sent to Archbishop Luigi Conti, apostolic nuncio in Turkey, the Pope "expresses his profound closeness to the families, the many wounded and their loved ones, as well as the rescue workers, whose courageous labor he appreciates."

The earthquake killed 45 people, injured 200 and destroyed 150 buildings. Thousands of people were unsheltered or in tents in the Bolvadin region, fearing a new quake.

Local authorities have made appeals for heaters, blankets, water and food for those affected.