Just a day after sending a telegram to express his sorrow, Pope Francis publicly expressed his condolences for the thousands of people who have died or were affected by an earthquake in central Morocco.
The 6.8-magnitude quake struck on Friday night in the mountainous region south-west of Marrakesh, causing widespread damage and destruction.
Speaking at the Angelus prayer on Sunday, the Pope offered his closeness to the “dear Moroccan people”.
He prayed for the injured and those “many people” who have died and for their families.
“I thank the rescue workers and those who are seeking to alleviate people’s suffering,” he said. “May the concrete aid of everyone sustain the people in this tragic moment.”
Pope Francis concluded by inviting everyone to be near to the people of Morocco.
Meanwhile, rescuers are searching for survivors under the rubble after the massive earthquake.
As of Sunday afternoon local time, least 2,012 people were reported killed and 2,059 injured in Friday’s earthquake.
In the last few hours, the Moroccan army has cleared one of the main roads leading to the epicenter of the quake – allowing essential assistance to reach people.
The route to the Atlas Mountains had been blocked by landslides. The Red Cross has pledged $1.1 million from their Disaster Response Emergency Fund to support the rescue effort.
Video footage taken by drone shows ancient villages near Marrakech reduced to rubble. The first three days after a natural disaster are a critical time period for finding survivors, relief organisations say.
Fearing aftershocks, many people have chosen to stay outdoors, sleeping on the streets or in fields.
The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs says more than 300,000 people in Marrakesh and its outskirts have been affected by the quake.