Pope prays for victims of China ship disaster

2015-06-03 14:05
Pope Francis. (Vincenzo Pinto, AFP)

Pope Francis. (Vincenzo Pinto, AFP)

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Vatican City - Pope Francis on Wednesday offered prayers to the victims of a major cruise ship disaster on China's Yangtze River.

More than 450 people were on board the Eastern Star vessel when it sank Monday in bad weather in Jianli in Hubei province. So far, 14 people had been rescued, while 18 were confirmed dead, according to local reports.

"I am close to the Chinese people in this difficult moment due to the ferry disaster on the Yangtze river. I pray for the victims, for their families and for all those who are involved in the rescue," Francis said during his weekly audience in St Peter's Square.

The Vatican has difficult relations with China, but has been trying for decades to improve them.

Communist China broke off relations with the Holy See in 1951, and has set up a parallel, state-sanctioned Catholic Church. Catholics who have remained loyal to the Vatican often face harassment and are forced underground.

Read more on:    pope francis  |  vatican city  |  china  |  maritime

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