300 000 pilgrims expected at beatification
Rome - The number of pilgrims expected to attend late pope John Paul II's beatification on May 1 has dropped dramatically, the Opera Romana Pellegrinaggi (ORP) organisation in charge of preparations says.
"We expect around 300 000 pilgrims for the day of the beatification," said ORP head Cesare Atuire on Tuesday, adding that the figure was just a current estimate.
The Vatican had said earlier it expected between two million and two-and-a-half million people to arrive in Rome for the ceremony that will put John Paul on the path to sainthood and during which his coffin will lie in state.
Atuire said the earlier estimate had been based on the number of faithful who attended John Paul's funeral.
Hotels in Rome have seen a spate of cancellations in the wake of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan and the escalation of military operations in Libya.