Pope prays for victims of Japan floods

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HIROSHIMA: Pope Francis is praying for the victims of Japan’s flooding and is encouraging civil authorities involved in search and rescue operations.

Francis sent a note of condolences to Catholic church authorities on Monday, saying he was “deeply saddened” to learn of the loss of life. At least 100 people are believed to have died, and another 80 people are unaccounted for, after heavy rains and mudslides thrashed southern Japan.

In the message, Francis expressed his solidarity with all those affected, offered his encouragement to rescue crews and said he was praying for the dead and injured “and the consolation of all those who grieve.”

European Union chief Donald Tusk has suggested moving the postponed summit with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to Tokyo next week.

Abe was set to visit Tusk on Wednesday to sign a free trade pact with the EU but was forced to abandon a trip to Europe to oversee the emergency response to deadly heavy rains.

Tusk said that the “EU will help in any way we can.” He added that “in view of the tragic circumstances, we are ready to move our EU-Japan Summit from Brussels to Tokyo next week.”