DAILY CATHOLIC     MON-TUES     December 7-8, 1998     vol. 9, no. 237

from a CATHOLIC perspective

To print out entire text of Today's issue, go to SECTION ONE and SECTION TWO


          VATICAN (CWNews.com) -- In a message of condolence to Cardinal Jaime Sin of Manila, Pope John Paul II has expressed his sympathies for the victims of a fire which swept through an orphanage in Manila on Tuesday, December 3, killing 23 children and 5 adults.

          In a telegram signed by the Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the Pope conveyed his "profound sorrow" over the tragedy, and said that the Holy Father had "commended the children and adults who died to the merciful love of our Father in heaven."

          In front-page coverage of the story, L'Osservatore Romano said the incident was "one of the most tragic fires in the history of the Philippines." The Vatican newspaper reported that the mayor of Manila, Joselito Atienza, planned to investigate whether unsafe conditions at the orphanage had added to the death toll.

          The bodies of 25 children, ranging in age from infants to adolescents, were pulled from the wreckage of the building. The cause of the fire is still under investigation, but faulty wiring is suspected. The local district fire chief was fired on Friday following media reports that firefighters took more than an hour to arrive on the scene after the fire was reported.

          Some children had shouted for help from the orphanage's second-floor windows, which were covered with metal grills to protect against intruders, but neighbors were unable to open the padlocked main gate to get to them. The fire's source was traced to the library on the second floor. The orphanage, founded 85 years ago by a local women's organization, also took care of children of unwed mothers and children of working parents.

          Juan Agravante, a real estate salesman, was one of those killed in the fire. He had been visiting his wife, Maria Theresa, a babysitter at the orphanage. Their bodies were found in each other's arms, hugging their two sons, John Andrian, 8, and Jomari, 2.

Articles provided through Catholic World News Service.
CWN is not affiliated with the Daily CATHOLIC but provides this service via e-mail to the Daily CATHOLIC Monday through Friday.

December 7-8, 1998       volume 9, no. 237


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