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People camping in tents. Almost 1 million people have been evacuated. Credit: Caritas Chile

People camping in tents. Almost 1 million people have been evacuated. Credit: Caritas Chile

Pope Francis has sent a message to the people of Chile who are reeling from a massive earthquake and aftershocks.

Six people died in the 8.2 magnitude earthquake which struck off the coast of Chile on 1st April. A national disaster was declared and almost 1 million people, including Prime Minister Michelle Bachelet have been evacuated.

Caritas in Chile has set up an emergency committee. It is in contact with dioceses to assess the damage and needs.

“Thanks to the Caritas network for its support following this new emergency which has hit our country,” said Caritas Chile. “Thank you to our brothers and sisters for their prayers and for their solidarity.”

Telephone coverage has been patchy following the earthquake, but diocesan Caritas representatives are travelling around parishes to gather information.

In a message to Cardinal Ricardo Ezzati, archbishop of Santiago, Pope Francis expressed his solidarity with the people of Chile and said: “I pray eternal rest to the deceased, to comfort those affected by this unfortunate tragedy and to inspire through hope to face such adversity.

Also, I pray urgently to all Christian communities, civil institutions and people of good will, to provide effective aid to those affected, with generous spirit and kindness.”

Pope Francis ends his message, “While I call on our Lady of Mount Carmel, as a sign of respect and esteem, I bless those Chileans in the north who are present in my heart.”