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Pope visits Italian earthquake region

October 04, 2016

Pope Francis paid a surprise visit to the region of Amatrice, Italy, on October 4 to comfort earthquake victims there.

During an exchange with reporters on October 2, as he traveled back to Rome from Azerbaijan, the Pontiff had said that he planned to visit the devasted area soon, but would not announce the trip in advance. He fulfilled that promise just two days later, arriving early on Tuesday morning in Amatrice, making the trip from Rome in a car with tinted windows.

Accompanied by Bishop Domenico Pompili of Rieti, the Pope visited a makeshift school that has been set up to accommodate primary and middle-school students whose school buildings were destroyed. Nearly 4,000 people are still living in tents around Amatrice, where 289 people died in the August 24 earthquake.

Pope Francis walked through the “red zone” in the town: an area that has been closed off because of damaged structures that remain unsafe. He spoke with residents individually, offering his comfort. He said that he had thought of visiting sooner, but feared that his presence “would be more of a hindrance than a help.”

From Amatrice the Pontiff continued to nearby Accumoli, where he prayed in the ruins of a church dedicated to St. Francis of Assisi. Then he went on to the towns of Pescara del Tronto and Arquata del Tronto before returning to Rome.

 
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