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August 24, 2016

6.2 Magnitude Earthquake hits central Italy

6.2 Magnitude Earthquake hits central Italy

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Wednesday, August 24, 2016

At 3:36am this morning, local time a 6.2 magnitude earthquake struck about 10 kilometres southeast of Norcia, Italy. The quake hit at a depth of 10 kilometres, and was felt all the way to Rome, about 100 miles (150 km) away from the town of Norcia.

120 or more people are dead, officials have said, including children, and around 100 people are reported missing. The death toll has risen over the course of the day, and is expected to rise further as scores of people remain unaccounted for. The 6.2 magnitude quake has effected the central towns of Norcia, Pescara del Tronto, Accumoli and Amatrice. Sergio Pirozzi, Amatrice’s mayor, remarked, “Half the town no longer exists”, as most of it has been reduced to rubble. Mayor Pirozzi went on to say rescue teams were digging with the “[hope] that most people were alive.”

File photo of a church in Norcia, Italy, 2003.
Image: Starlight.

After hearing about the devastating effects of the earthquake, Pope Francis postponed a weekly address on religious teachings, instead dedicating a prayer session in Saint Peter’s Square for those effected by the disaster. “[L]earning that there are children among the victims, I am deeply saddened,” Pope Francis told his public.

Authorities have compared today’s earthquake in central Italy to the 2009 earthquake that killed over 300 people in Abruzzo, Italy. Italy’s Civil Protection agency characterized the earthquake as “severe”.



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January 31, 2015

Gas explosion flattens Mexico City maternity hospital

Gas explosion flattens Mexico City maternity hospital

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Saturday, January 31, 2015

Mexico
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An explosion on Thursday morning destroyed a state maternity hospital in Mexico City, Mexico. A nurse and two babies are dead.

Cquote1.svg I feel grateful to have another chance to keep living, to keep working as a nurse Cquote2.svg

—Ivonne Lugo Durantes, injured survvor

Initially reports placed the fatalities at seven. Local officials including Mexico City Health Secretary Armando Ahued and Mayor Miguel Angel Mancera have since revised the figure downwards. Over 70 people including 20 infants are wounded. Around 100 people were in the building at the time.

The explosion occurred as a truck was resupplying the hospital’s gas tanks, and a leak developed in the supply hose. Driver Julio César Martínez and assistants Carlos Chavez and Salvador Alatorre have been arrested. Chavez and Alatorre spent around fifteen minutes attempting to stem the leak, to no avail. All three are amongst the injured.

Firefighters and federal police entered the ruins to recover trapped survivors. Victims’ relatives, and other bystanders, gathered at police cordons around the scene. “I am still a little bit in shock. It was a nightmare,” said nurse Ivonne Lugo Durantes.

Durantes was rescued after ten minutes trapped beneath debris. She has first degree burns but is “grateful to have another chance to keep living, to keep working as a nurse.” She witnessed other staff rescuing babies amid a conflagration.

New father Jose Eduardo told reporters his wife ran barefoot with their baby to escape. Eduardo said some escaped nude. Witnesses around the hospital reported a strong smell of gas, a large explosion, and flying debris. Ambulances and helicopters were used to evacuate casualties.

President Enrique Pena Nieto and Pope Francis both took to Twitter to express support for the victims.



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March 14, 2013

Archbishop Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Buenos Aires elected as Pope Francis

Archbishop Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Buenos Aires elected as Pope Francis

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Thursday, March 14, 2013

Jorge Mario Bergoglio in 2012
Image: Sandra Hernandez.

The Roman Catholic Church has elected Archbishop Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Buenos Aires as the new pope. He is to take the papal name Francis and take over from the recently retired Benedict XVI.

White smoke rose from the Sistine Chapel chimney at 7:06pm (Rome time) yesterday, signifying that the conclave had elected a new pope after four unsuccessful attempts. Following his election, he appeared at a balcony in St. Peter’s Square to greet crowds of onlookers.

Introducing himself in St. Peter’s Square, Francis was jovial: “Brothers and sisters, good evening. You know that the work of the conclave is to give a bishop to Rome. It seems as if my brother cardinals went to find him from the end of the earth. Thank you for the welcome.” He went on to say: “Let’s begin this long road from the Bishop of Rome to the people. Let us all behave with love and charity. Let us pray always not just for ourselves, but for others, for everyone in the word”.

Born in Buenos Aires on December 17, 1936 and now aged 76, the new pope became a bishop in 1992, and was elevated to cardinal in 2001 by Pope John Paul II. As a child, he lost a lung due to an infection. He is the first Jesuit pope and the first from the Americas. He was the President of the Bishops’ Conference of Argentina from 2005 to 2011.

US President Barack Obama made a statement about the election of the new pope: “On behalf of the American people, Michelle and I offer our warm wishes to His Holiness Pope Francis as he ascends to the Chair of Saint Peter and begins his papacy.” Obama’s statement noted the new pope was a “champion of the poor and the most vulnerable among us”, and “[as] the first pope from the Americas, his selection also speaks to the strength and vitality of a region that is increasingly shaping our world”.

US House Speaker John Boehner also pointed out the new pope came from the Americas: “I think that reaching out beyond the traditional continent of our church is another big step in the right direction of our church.” British Prime Minister David Cameron said that the papal election was “a momentous day for the 1.2 billion Catholics around the world”.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said the election of a new Pope was of “great significance to Christians everywhere, not least Anglicans”. He went on to describe the new pope: “Pope Francis is well known as a compassionate pastor of real stature who has served the poor in Latin America, and whose simplicity and holiness of life is remarkable. He is an evangelist, sharing the love of Christ which he himself knows.”

In Argentina, he was outspoken against socially liberal policies including the provision of free contraception and gay marriage. Bergoglio said plans to legalize gay marriage in Argentina were “a plan to destroy God’s plan” and “a move by the father of lies to confuse and deceive the children of God”.

Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi said Francis would be known as Pope Francis; “It will become Francis I after we have a Francis II”.



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