ROME: Pope Expresses Sorrow for Thousands Dead in Moroccan Earthquake and Flooding in Libya

By Arnold Neliba

VATICAN CITY, SEPTEMBER 12, 2023 (CISA)-Pope Francis has expressed his profound sorrow for the thousands of people feared dead and the massive destruction caused by devastating flooding in Libya and thousands killed by the earthquake in Morocco.

About 3,000 people are estimated to have been killed and 10,000 still missing after massive flooding occasioned by Storm Daniel hit eastern Libya.

In a telegram signed by the Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin and sent to the Apostolic Nuncio to Libya, Archbishop Savio Hon Tai-Fai, the Pope assured those affected of his “prayers for the souls of the deceased and all who mourn their loss.”

Storm Daniel barrelled across the Mediterranean into Libya, wiping out about a quarter of the country’s eastern city of Derna, after dams burst in a storm. The storm led to a sudden increase in the water load that led to the destruction of two dams.

The head of Libya’s Tripoli-based unity government, Abdul Hamid Dbeibeh, on Monday, declared three days of national mourning for the victims of floods. 700 bodies have been buried even as search efforts continue.

In Morocco, a 6.8-magnitude earthquake struck on September 8 at night and an aftershock with a magnitude of 4.9 followed 19 minutes later causing “very high levels of damage” to dense residential areas of Marrakesh as well as to villages in the rural and mountains area of the Atlas, according to OCHA. The death toll from the earthquake has hit over 2600 people.

Even as rescue efforts continue, Pope Francis speaking in the Angelus prayer on Sunday thanked “the rescue workers and those who are seeking to alleviate people’s suffering. May the concrete aid of everyone sustain the people in this tragic moment.”

This followed a telegram of condolence for the victims of the earthquake sent on behalf of Pope Francis by Cardinal Parolin.

The message reads “Having learned with sorrow of the earthquake that violently struck Morocco, his holiness Pope Francis wishes to express his prayerful communion in the face of this natural disaster. Saddened by this event, the pope expresses his profound solidarity with those who are touched in their flesh and heart by this tragedy: he prays for the repose of the dead, the healing of the injured and the consolation of those who mourn the loss of their loved ones and their homes. The Holy Father prays to the most high to support Moroccans in this time of trial and offers his encouragement to the civil authorities and rescue services. He willingly invokes divine blessings on all as a token of comfort.”