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Saturday, January 3, 1998 Published at 13:25 GMT



World

Pope visits Italian earthquake area
image: [ Thousands turned out to see the Pope at the Basilica of St Francis in the town of Assisi ]
Thousands turned out to see the Pope at the Basilica of St Francis in the town of Assisi

Pope John Paul is visiting parts of central Italy which were devastated by earthquakes last September.

The 77-year-old announced the trip in his Christmas Day message.

He flew by helicopter from the Vatican to Annifo, where he was met by crowds of local people on Saturday.


[ image: The Pope flew by helicopter from the Vatican]
The Pope flew by helicopter from the Vatican
The Pope prayed in a prefabricated chapel built since the earthquake before moving to another badly-hit mountain village, Cesi.

There he met more of those made homeless by the earthquake before concluding his tour with a visit to the shrine of St Francis in Assisi.


[ image: Sifting through the remains of the Basilica]
Sifting through the remains of the Basilica
He said he was shocked by the suffering of thousands of people who lost their homes.

Four people died when the roof of the Basilica collapsed in September, damaging priceless frescoes.

Seven other people died in the first earthquakes and a further 13,000 were left homeless by hundreds of aftershocks that continued to shake the region for weeks.

Many have been living in tents and caravans for months in freezing temperatures and snow.


 





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