Pope Francis offers prayers for Taiwanese people

Pope Francis offers prayers for Taiwanese people Photo: Paul Yang

With at least six people dead after a deadly earthquake and series of aftershocks in Taiwan, Pope Francis has sent a telegram assuring of his prayer for the victims and those engaged in rescue efforts.

Signed by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin and addressed to Bishop Philip Huang Chao-ming of Hwalien, the February 7 telegram expressed the Pope’s solidarity “with all those affected by the earthquakes in Taiwan these past days”.

Francis, the telegram said, “offers the assurance of his prayers for those who have lost their lives and for those who have been injured”.

“As he encourages the civil authorities and emergency personnel engaged in rescue efforts, His Holiness willingly invokes upon all the Taiwanese people the divine blessings of strength and peace.”

The Pope’s telegram was sent after a 6.4 magnitude earthquake struck 22 kilometres north of the city late Tuesday, killing at least six people and injuring 258 people. It also damaged buildings and bridges with many either collapsing or being held up by makeshift beams.

Tremors were felt as far north as the capital city of Taipei, which sits roughly 120 kilometres from Hwalien. At least 15 aftershocks followed, measuring as high as 4.8, and could still be felt Wednesday morning.

As aftershocks continued to rock the island Wednesday morning, some 600 military personnel and more than 750 firefighters were deployed to comb through rubble to look for survivors and help with rescue efforts.