Pope to visit Italy quake areas

It will be the Pope's first visit to the quake-affected areaPope Benedict XVI is to travel to central Italy to visit survivors of the earthquake that struck on 6 April.

He is due to see a number of areas devastated by the disaster and say prayers for nearly 300 people who died.

Some 65,000 people are still homeless. Around 36,000 are living in tents while others are being put up in hotels.

The head of the Catholic Church will first visit the village of Onna outside L’Aquila, where around 40 people died in the earthquake.

All the buildings in the village are now uninhabitable; the people who survived the quake are living in tents and in a nearby field.

The Pope will also visit a student residence block in L’Aquila where a number of young people lost their lives.

He is expected to thank rescue teams and medical staff for their response to the earthquake.

It will be the Pope’s first visit to the quake-affected area.

He sent out greetings to those “suffering from the earthquake” when he celebrated Easter Mass on St Peter’s Square in the Vatican earlier this month.

He also sent chocolate Easter eggs to victims of the earthquake.

The authorities have said it could be weeks, if not months, before it is known which of the houses left standing are safe enough to be repaired and which will have to be demolished.

Source: BBC