At the end of today's general audience in St. Peter's Square, the Pope expressed his condolences to the victims of a tsunami that hit the coasts of Indonesia on Tuesday, hours after the volcanic eruption of Mount Merapi began some 800 miles to the east.
"To the families of the victims I express my heartfelt sympathy for the loss of their dear ones and to all the Indonesian population I assure my closeness and my prayer," the Pontiff said.
The Holy Father also remembered the West African nation of Benin, which has been affected for the past five weeks by severe flooding, due to an unusually heavy rainy season.
The flooding has affected nearly 2 million people across Central and West Africa, Vatican Radio reported today, including 64,500 children under the age of five.
"I am," Benedict XVI said, "close to the dear population of Benin, struck by continuous floods, which have left many people homeless and in precarious hygiene-health situations. Upon the victims and upon the entire nation I invoke the blessing and comfort of the Lord."
The Pope then appealed to the international community to "provide the necessary aid to alleviate the afflictions of all those who suffer because of these devastations."