MILAN, Italy — Report states Pope Benedict XVI called Genoa’s cardinal on Saturday to express his solidarity with the people of the port city where at least six people have been killed by torrential floods.
Rains lashed several areas of Italy’s western coastal region of Liguria and Genoa, causing flash floods that broke the banks of at least two rivers. A state of alarm was in effect in the areas on the next day. Four women and two children were killed. In late October, another round of flooding in the Cinque Terre region of Liguria and neighboring Tuscany left at least nine dead.
Meanwhile, the news agency ANSA reported that the pope shared his “prayers for the victims, and all the people hit by the disaster,” in a telephone call to Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco. Bagnasco visited the quarter hardest hit by the floods, telling residents: “The pain is great, but now it is time to roll up the sleeves.”
Earlier, Premier Silvio Berlusconi blamed improper construction for preventing proper runoff for the rapid devastation.
“It is evident that there was construction where there shouldn’t have been, but perhaps there can be interventions to prevent a repeat of these disasters,” Berlusconi said in a statement. “It is terrible to watch helplessly on TV the drama in Genoa, that has involved so many people.”
Genoa’s mayor, Marta Vicenzi, has been criticized for allowing schools to be open on Friday. According to Italian news reports, an 18-year-old girl died with her brother when she went to pick him up from school for her mother, who was at work.
Vicenzi defended her decision in an interview with the Rome daily La Repubblica, saying she did not want to create chaos and that open schools gave parents the possibility to identify shelter.
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