Pope Francis prays for tsunami-hit Tonga
Pope Francis expresses his spiritual closeness to the people of the Pacific island nation of Tonga, following the eruption the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai volcano which unleashed a destructive tsunami.
During the General Audience on Wednesday, Pope Francis turned his thoughts to the inhabitants of the Tonga Islands, who have been hit by a devastating tsunami set off by the eruption of the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai volcano.
Prayers and closeness
The Holy Father expressed his closeness to the people of the Pacific nation pleading with God to relieve their suffering.
"I am spiritually close to all those who are sorely-tried, and I implore from God relief in their suffering," said the Pope.
He then called on everyone to join in prayer "for these brothers and sisters."
The massive underwater eruption started on 15 January, causing tsunami waves which reached as far away as the American coasts.
Three deaths have been reported so far, and and a large number of houses have been damaged or detroyed by the tsunami.
Many parts of Tonga, home to 105,000 people, are covered by a thick layer of ash, and are experiencing a near-total blackout of power and communications.
Local authorities have already reported some water sources being contaminated by ash, which can contain heavy metals like arsenic and cadmium.
Vatican News staff writer