'You are not alone': Pope brings 3 Muslim refugee families to Rome – USA TODAY

Three migrant families joined Pope Francis on his return home to Italy following his emotional visit to the hard-hit Greek island of Lesbos. The Vatican said the migrants would be cared for by Italy’s Catholic Sant’Egidio Community. (April 16) AP

LESBOS, Greece — In an emotional visit to a fenced-in refugee center on this Greek island, Pope Francis told hundreds of displaced families Saturday that “you are not alone” — and underscored his message by taking three families of Syrian Muslim refugees back to Rome with him.

The 12 refugees, including six children, joined the pope on his plane after a five-hour visit to the Moria detention center. The pope also asked European leaders to do more to help the thousands of refugees stuck in camps.

“Refugees are not numbers; they are people who have faces, names, stories and need to be treated as such,” Francis tweeted at one point on Saturday.

Two of the families are from Damascus, and one is from an area of Syria now occupied by the Islamic State, according to a statement by the Vatican press office.

Asked why all the families were Muslims, the pope told reporters on his return flight to Rome that the choice was not between Christians and Muslims and that those who were selected all had their papers in order. The Vatican said the details were worked out in an agreement between the Greek and Italian authorities.

“I have always said that building walls is not a solution. We saw walls during the last century and they did not resolve anything. We must build bridges. Bridges are built with intelligence, with dialogue, with integration,” he said, according to an official Vatican transcript.

Asked whether Europe can open its arms to all the misery in the world, the pope noted the impact of war and hunger — and how the factions fighting in Syria have been armed by others. “I would invite the producers of arms to spend a day in the camp (in Lesbos),” he said. “I believe that would be good.”

The 12 refugees will be cared for in Rome by the Community of Sant’Egidio, a Catholic lay organization dedicated to charity, the Vatican said. The Vatican is already hosting two refugee families in Rome.

Nour Essa, 30, a Palestinian-Syrian scientist, is one of the 12 who returned to Rome with the pope. She will be relocated along with her 3-year-old son and husband. The family fled because her husband was being pressured to join the Syrian army.

“We heard of the EU-Turkey deal which would be implemented on March 20 and decided despite the bad weather to get on one of the boats to Lesbos,” she said. “We were very lucky: Friends of ours that were living with us in Turkey that came the next day were not given papers and are still in jail in Moria camp. Instead, we will be refugees in Italy!”

The pope’s gesture came as the European Union begins to implements a controversial plan to deport refugees from Greece back to Turkey.

The deal stipulates anyone arriving clandestinely on Greek islands on or after March 20 will be returned to Turkey unless they successfully apply for asylum in Greece. For every Syrian sent back, the EU will take another Syrian directly from Turkey for resettlement in Europe.

In return, Turkey was granted concessions including billions of dollars to deal with the more than 2.7 million Syrian refugees living there, and a speeding up of its stalled accession talks with the EU.

Human rights groups have denounced the deal as an abdication of Europe’s obligations to grant protection to asylum-seekers.

Hours before Francis arrived, the European border patrol agency Frontex intercepted a dinghy carrying 41 Syrians and Iraqis off the coast of Lesbos. The refugees were detained and brought to shore in the main port of Mytilene, the Associated Press reports.

When the pope visited 250 refugees at the Moria detention center, one young girl fell sobbing to her knees in front of him. The pontiff gently lifted her to her feet and stroked her hair. A woman told the pope that her husband was in Germany, but that she was stuck with her two sons in Lesbos.

The pope made the rounds among many of the refugees, shaking hands with young people along a fence and later addressing the group.

“I want to tell you that you are not alone,” he said. “In these weeks and months, you have endured much suffering in your search for a better life. Many of you felt forced to flee situations of conflict and persecution for the sake, above all, of your children, your little ones.”

Francis was met at the airport by Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras along with Patriarch Bartholomew, spiritual leader of the world’s Orthodox Christians, and the Archbishop of Athens.

Francis thanked Tsipras for the “generosity” shown by the Greek people in welcoming foreigners despite their economic troubles and called for a response to the migration crisis that respects European and international law, the Vatican said.

Tsipras said he was proud of Greece’s response “at a time when some of our partners — even in the name of Christian Europe — were erecting walls and fences to prevent defenseless people from seeking a better life,” according to the Associated Press.

The son of Italian immigrants to Argentina, Francis has made the plight of refugees, the poor and downtrodden the focus of his ministry as pope, denouncing the “globalization of indifference” that the world shows the less fortunate.

He visited the Italian island of Lampedusa in the summer of 2013, his first trip outside Rome as pope, after a dozen migrants died trying to reach the southern tip of Europe. He made a similar gesture more recently at the U.S.-Mexican border, laying a bouquet of flowers next to a large crucifix at the Ciudad Juarez border crossing in memory of migrants who died trying to reach the U.S.

While such visits have brought the controversial topic front and center, the Vatican insists Saturday’s visit is purely humanitarian and religious in nature, not political or a “direct” criticism of the EU plan.

But Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi told reporters Francis’ position on Europe’s “moral obligation” to welcome refugees is well-known, and that the EU-Turkey deportation deal certainly has “consequences on the situation of the people involved.”

The Vatican official in charge of migrants, Cardinal Antonio Maria Veglio, was even more explicit, saying the EU-Turkey plan essentially treats migrants as merchandise that can be traded back and forth and doesn’t recognize their inherent dignity as human beings.

“He is slightly provocative,” said George Demacopoulos, chair of Orthodox Christian studies at the Jesuit-run Fordham University in New York. Citing Francis’ Mexico border visit in February, in the heat of a U.S. presidential campaign where illegal immigration took center stage, he added: “He is within his purview to do so, but that was a provocative move.”

“Refugees and migrants in Lesbos are like an exhibit,” said Stratis Pallis, 26, a psychotherapist who has been working with migrants in the camps on the island. “Everyone comes to see them, the famous and the ordinary. These visits help neither the refugees nor the visitors, as the situation doesn’t change.”

Travel agent Maria Androulaki said, however, the pontiff’s trip bore a message of compassion that was fitting for an island that has been the transit hub in the past year for almost 1 million migrants fleeing the Middle East and North Africa in search of peace and jobs in Europe. Thousands died in the crossing. Many were buried in the island’s soil.

“I don’t see anything negative in the pope’s visit,” Androulaki said. “All the world’s eyes will be on Lesbos. Millions of people will learn about Lesbos and the island will be televised throughout the world. The refugee crisis taught us to be more humane.”

The three religious leaders had lunch with a group of the detainees at the Moria camp, formerly a housing center for refugees but one now turned into a detention center. Its residents are barred from leaving the facility as officials process their asylum applications.

“At Moria detention camp on Lesbos, we witnessed with our own eyes the crushing impact the EU-Turkey deal is having on men, women and children, including a large number of vulnerable refugees, being held arbitrarily,” said Gauri van Gulik, deputy director for Europe at Amnesty International. “The pope should make clear that the failure to change course would be Europe’s shame.”

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Pope Francis Takes 12 Refugees Back to Vatican After Trip to Greece – New York Times

MYTILENE, Greece — Pope Francis made an emotional visit into the heart of Europe’s migrant crisis on Saturday and took 12 Muslim refugees from Syria, including six children, with him back to Rome aboard the papal plane.

The action punctuated the pope’s pleas for sympathy to the plight of the refugees just as European attitudes are hardening against them.

Those taken to Rome were three families — two from Damascus and one from the eastern city of Deir al-Zour — whose homes had been bombed in the Syrian war, the Vatican said in a statement as the pope departed the Greek island of Lesbos.

”The pope has desired to make a gesture of welcome regarding refugees,” the statement said, adding that the Vatican would care for the three families.

The announcement capped a brief trip by the pope to Greece that again placed the plight of migrants at the center of his papacy.

“We have come to call the attention of the world to this grave humanitarian crisis and to plead for its resolution,” Francis said during a lunchtime visit to the Moria refugee camp on Lesbos, where leaders of Eastern Orthodox Christian churches joined him.

“As people of faith, we wish to join our voices to speak out on your behalf,” Francis continued. “We hope that the world will heed these scenes of tragic and indeed desperate need, and respond in a way worthy of our common humanity.”

Francis’ first papal trip in 2013 was to the Italian island of Lampedusa, to call attention to the refugees who were arriving there from Libya — or drowning before they reached shore. During his February visit to Mexico, Francis prayed beneath a large cross erected in Ciudad Juárez, just footsteps from the Mexican border with the United States, and then celebrated Mass nearby, where he spoke about immigrants.

Upon landing in Lesbos on Saturday, Francis held a brief private meeting with Greece’s prime minister, Alexis Tsipras, before traveling across the island to the detention center in Moria, where people are held as they await rulings on their asylum applications — or as they wait to be deported under a recent agreement struck between the European Union and Turkey to curb migration.

Beginning last summer, hundreds of thousands of migrants, mostly from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, have poured into Lesbos after paying smugglers to make the short sea journey from the Turkish coast. The procession through Greece and the Balkans toward Germany plunged the European Union into a political crisis and eventually led several countries to restrict or close their borders, despite the bloc’s system of open internal borders.

The deal with Turkey includes a provision under which migrants arriving in Greece can be swiftly deported back to Turkey. Since the deal took effect last month, the number of migrants arriving in Lesbos has dropped sharply (even as the numbers arriving in Italy are steadily rising). Critics say the agreement has trampled on the civil rights of refugees fleeing war and betrayed the ideals of the European Union.

In speaking at the migrants camp, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, the spiritual leader of the world’s Eastern Orthodox Christians, bluntly reminded Europeans, and their leaders, that Christians and others are judged on how they treat the weak and powerless.

“The world will be judged by the way it has treated you,” Bartholomew told the refugees. “And we will all be accountable for the way we respond to the crisis and conflict in the regions that you come from. The Mediterranean Sea should not be a tomb.”

Thousands of migrants have drowned in the Mediterranean, including a young child whose limp body washed ashore last year on the Turkish coast. A photograph of the child became a searing icon of the refugee crisis.

“I hope that we never see children washing up on the shores of the Aegean Sea,” said Archbishop Ieronymos II, the leader of the Greek Orthodox Church, who called for a greater response by the United Nations. “I hope to soon see them there, untroubled, enjoying life.”

At the Moria center, Francis slowly walked down a line of migrants, many of them Muslims, greeting people as some waved handwritten signs with slogans like “Freedom of Movement.” Others propped their children above their shoulders or held out smartphones to photograph the pope.

Inside a large white tent, Francis greeted a woman in a head scarf as she cradled her baby, as well as other refugee families. A small boy stepped forward and handed him a picture drawn with crayons. An Iraqi mother asked Francis to help her find medical care for her child’s bone cancer.

At one point, a man began wailing as Francis placed his hands on the man’s head. “Please, Father, bless me!” the man shouted. “Please, Father, bless me!”

Francis and the other religious leaders offered special praise on Saturday for ordinary Greeks who have welcomed refugees, taken some into their homes or provided food and clothing, even as they endure hardship amid the country’s long-running financial crisis. Mr. Tsipras and other Greek leaders have called on the European Union to provide more help to the country as it has borne the brunt of the migrant crisis.

Across Europe, the mood has soured in recent months, as many countries have closed or restricted their borders amid mounting public anxiety over the chaotic influx of more than a million refugees last year. The recent terrorist attacks in Paris and Brussels have also darkened public attitudes and stirred anti-migrant sentiment in some areas, even as many refugees say they are trying to escape extremist violence. Far-right, anti-immigrant parties have seized on the crisis to make gains, most recently in regional elections in Germany.

By appearing with the two Orthodox Christian leaders, Francis also took another small step in healing the breach between the Eastern and Western branches of Christianity. Francis has made ecumenical outreach a priority and in February became the first pope to meet with the patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church.

Carlo Pioppi, a professor of church history at Santa Croce University in Rome, said the appearance by the three leaders showed they could put aside doctrinal and theological differences to highlight their shared concern about refugees. The three men described the refugee crisis as one of Europe’s most serious crises since the end of World War II.

“Regular people will understand the sign these three religious leaders are sending,” Professor Pioppi said in an interview on Friday. “To see them have lunch with refugees, all together, is a strong message of humanity.”

The British charity Oxfam released a statement on Friday calling for a moratorium on deportations of refugees from Greece to Turkey until the authorities can guarantee that asylum processes are followed. The group also raised questions about new “fast track” processes to review asylum cases that the Greek Parliament recently approved under pressure from the European Union.

“Thousands are being held in squalid detention centers on the Greek Islands — this is the state of Europe in 2016,” Farah Karimi, the executive director of Oxfam Novib, the Dutch affiliate of Oxfam, said in the statement. “Shame on the E.U. for prioritizing detention and deportation over people’s rights to safety and dignity.”

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Does Bernie Sanders need to win New York for the media to take him seriously again? – Washington Post


Bernie Sanders. (Photo by Yana Paskova/for The Washington Post)

Bernie Sanders thinks the media have been too quick to write him off.

“If you ignore what you hear on corporate media, the facts are pretty clear,” he told supporters on April 5, the night of his Democratic presidential primary win in Wisconsin. “We have a path toward victory, a path toward the White House.”

On Tuesday the Vermont senator has a chance to prove himself right when he faces front-runner Hillary Clinton in her home state of New York with the biggest delegate prize to date on the line. So the question is this: How well does Sanders need to do to change the political press’s mind about the state of the race?

An upset win would surely elevate him back to contender status. New York, which Clinton represented in the U.S. Senate from 2001 to 2009, looked a short time ago like the place where she might finish off Sanders once and for all. As recently as April 2, Clinton led in the Empire State by 27 points, according to the RealClearPolitics polling average. A victory by that kind of margin could bury Sanders in a delegate hole out of which even his most optimistic supporters would struggle to imagine him digging.

But Sanders’s deficit is down to low double-digits now. He won Michigan last month when the polling average showed him down by 21. Some unique circumstances likely contributed to the polls’ inaccuracy there, but he is clearly capable of mounting a big comeback.

One thing that could diminish a victory in New York is the possibility of Sanders winning the popular vote but losing the delegate count. Clinton appears to have a 34-delegate head start, thanks to unpledged superdelegates who have expressed their support. (Sanders has argued that he still has time to woo superdelegates before the Democratic National Convention in July.)

Setting superdelegates aside, 247 pledged delegates will be awarded in the primary. Eighty-four will be allocated proportionally according to the statewide vote; the rest will be assigned proportionally in each of 27 congressional districts. That’s a lot of math, but the bottom line is this: Sanders could win the statewide popular vote and still wind up with fewer delegates if his support is concentrated in just a few districts.

Even in that scenario, however, a Sanders victory would force the media to take him seriously. Or, to put it another way, a Clinton defeat on her home turf would signal that she is in real trouble or, at the very least, looks shakier than most people believe her to be.

Assuming Clinton holds off her challenger, however, how close does Sanders have to come to be viewed as back in the game?

This type of question is always difficult because the answer changes. In Iowa, for instance, Sanders’s decimal-point loss was good enough for the media to dub him a real threat. News outlets such as CNN, NBC, Politico, the New York Times and The Washington Post reported that the senator’s surprisingly strong showing signaled a long, drawn-out nominating contest.

But just a few weeks later, after Sanders rallied but ultimately came up short in Nevada, “Meet the Press” moderator Chuck Todd suggested in an interview with the underdog that coming close wasn’t good enough anymore.

“Don’t you have to beat her in a place like Texas or Virginia or Tennessee?” Todd asked. “A big state, to say, ‘You know what, I can win this nomination. I can’t just come close.’ Don’t you have to do that?”

Sanders agreed with the premise. And lately he hasn’t been coming close; he’s been winning. He’s won seven of the last eight states, in fact. Yet these actual victories have done little to alter the prevailing sentiment — largely crystallized by Clinton’s dominance on Super Tuesday and her five-state sweep on March 15 — that Sanders is on a quixotic quest.

A recent Daily Beast headline summed things up perfectly: “Bernie Sanders wins Wisconsin, changes nothing.”

It’s a dizzying media standard: sometimes candidates get a lot of credit for narrow losses; other times they get little for outright wins.

A sub-head on the same Daily Beast story declared that “If he can take New York, then we’ve got a contest. If not, Clinton has it.”

New York is almost here. Sanders probably doesn’t need to “take” the primary to restore some of the press’s faith, but he can’t lose by 30 points. I’m not even sure that a margin of defeat in the high single digits would be seen as terribly impressive. But if he can claw to within five points in the popular vote, Sanders can make Clinton appear newly vulnerable again and make himself look more viable than he has seemed in a couple months.

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Pope calls for compassion for refugees, takes three families back to Italy – Washington Post

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MYTILENE, Greece —Pope Francis on Saturday took three refugee families back with him on his plane to Rome following an emotional and provocative visit to the Greek island of Lesbos that seemed designed to prick Europe’s conscience over its treatment of refugees.

The pope boarded his Alitalia jet along with 12 Syrians from three families, all of whom had had their houses bombed and are seeking refuge in Europe, according to Vatican spokesman the Rev. Thomas Rosica. There were six children among them. Rosica said the families would be cared for at the Vatican.

The dramatic gesture by the pope came at the end of a highly symbolic visit to Lesbos, an island that has been the first port of call for hundreds of thousands of people seeking sanctuary in Europe over the past year as they fled war, oppression and poverty in Asia, Africa and the Middle East. But in the past two weeks, it also has been the scene of hundreds of deportations under a new plan by which Europe sends back those who reach its shores.

The centerpiece of Francis’s five-hour visit Saturday was a visit to the Moria detention facility, where he sat down for lunch with some of the 3,060 men, women and children who arrived on this sun-splashed beach of Europe harboring a dream that was shattered almost as soon as they made landfall. By crossing the barbed-wire threshold that walls the residents of Moria off from the world, the pope presented European leaders with an unmistakable moral challenge.

As Francis made his way through the facility, several people knelt at his feet, weeping uncontrollably.

“They’re looking for your mercy,” a translator told the pope.

Periodic chants of “Freedom! Freedom!” broke out in the crowd, punctuated by the cries of babies and young children.

“We hope that the world will heed these scenes of tragic and, indeed, desperate need,” Francis later told hundreds of migrants who had gathered beneath a plastic, pre-fabricated tent to hear him speak. He had come, he said, to tell the Moria residents that “you are not alone.”

He also called on “all our brothers and sisters on this continent, like the Good Samaritan to come to your aid.”

Later, in a ceremony in the main port of Lesbos, Francis urged the world to resist the temptation to build walls. “Barriers create divisions instead of promoting the true progress of peoples,” he said.

The surprise ending to the visit — with Francis flying off into a clear blue sky with refugees aboard his plane — came out as a result of negotiation between the Vatican, Italian and Greek authorities, according to a Vatican statement.

All 12 of those who traveled with the pope are Muslims, the Vatican said. Two of the families are from Damascus, and one is from Deir al-Zour in an area of Syria controlled by the Islamic State. The Vatican said the families had arrived in Greece before the European Union’s plan to deport people back to Turkey took effect.

Boris Cheshirkov, spokesman for the United Nations’ refugee agency, UNHCR, said the decision by the pope to take refugees with him was “a gesture of solidarity and a humanitarian act.”

Upon greeting Francis at the airport, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras called his visit “historic,” saying that it came at a time when “some of our partners — even in the name of Christian Europe — were erecting walls and fences to prevent defenseless people from seeking a better life.”

When the pope arrived at the detention facility, which human rights advocates say is overcrowded and understaffed by asylum officers, he was given a hero’s welcome, with people cheering, clapping and whistling as he shook hands one by one with residents who had lined up to greet him. Many held signs praising Francis and pleading for his help.

“Welcome to Moria,” many people told him as they clasped his hand. The pope smiled broadly in reply.

As he made his way through the camp — surrounded by high fences and patrolled by police — kids handed him their drawings. He complimented them on their artistry.

“Don’t fold it. I want it on my desk,” he told a young girl. When greeting observant Muslim women, scarves pulled over their hair, he placed his hand atop his heart and gently bowed.

For those being held at the facility, their experience of Europe has been defined by confinement. Instead of earning passage to a new, better life, they were locked up. Rather than finding a permanent home in a safe country, they were told they would soon be sent back to the instability and violence of where they started.

Detainees said in the lead-up to the pope’s visit that they believed his arrival could give them one last shot at reprieve.

“If the governments of Europe respect the pope, they will listen,” said Abdul Hadi, an 18-year-old Afghan who spoke to a reporter from behind the facility’s imposingly high fences as friends kept a wary eye out for police. “They will stop deporting refugees.”

It is far from clear that European leaders, satisfied by the falling arrival numbers that their policy has generated, will respond to the pope’s attempts at persuasion.

But by visiting Moria, and by breaking bread with people Europe is threatening to deport, the leader of the Catholic Church will be making his strongest statement yet on migrant rights, an issue he has made one of the biggest focuses of his revolutionary tenure.

“He is convinced that the mass displacement of people at this time is the most important moral choice facing Western countries,” said Francis biographer Austen Ivereigh. “Will we embrace the stranger in need or build new iron curtains? Will we offer migrants a new home or send them into the arms of the mafias and death at sea?”

In official visits, from Mexico to southern Italy, Francis has championed immigrants and migrants, calling the need to aid them, no matter their faith, a duty of all Christians. As recently as last month, even as Europe was closing its door, he seemed to make a political statement by washing the feet of migrants during Holy Week celebrations.

On Saturday, the pope had the chance to speak out against Europe’s policies from the very harbor where people are being deported. He did so even as an epic debate continues to roil the continent: What do you do about the historic number of people displaced by conflict, more than a million of whom sought sanctuary in Europe last year?

About half came through this Aegean island, Lesbos, on their way to points farther north. But last month, Europe abruptly shut down the pipeline, announcing that not only would people be barred from traveling onward from Greece, but all new arrivals would also be shipped back to Turkey.

Last week, Europe made good on its threat, sending 325 people back across the sea — despite protestations from human rights groups, and from Francis.

Europe’s leaders have shown little interest in reversing course. European Council President Donald Tusk acknowledged this week that he had “doubts of an ethical nature” about the deportation plan but defended it as necessary “to prevent political catastrophes.”

In January alone, he noted, there had been 70,000 new arrivals — a pace that has dropped precipitously since Europe began to block the path. “How many more would have come in April if we had not taken action?” he asked.

But rights advocates say it is disgraceful that Europe is turning away people in obvious need of protection, and they hope Francis’s visit can begin a reconsideration.

“This visit is an opportunity for Europe to come together and share the responsibility instead of leaving Greece to handle it on its own,” said Cheshirkov, the Lesbos-based UNHCR spokesman. “It’s also a chance to remember what our values should be. At a time when xenophobia is on the rise, we should remind ourselves that Europe is built on human rights, tolerance and diversity.”

Lesbos will give Francis a nearly ideal opportunity to deliver that message. Even as other, less-affected parts of Europe have shunned refugees, island residents have been consistently welcoming. That is despite the fact that the monthly arrival totals last fall occasionally surpassed the island’s entire population.

As the boats glided into shore by the dozens last year, residents waded into the surf to carry out rescues, offered new arrivals shelter in their homes and drove families across the island’s rugged interior to save them days of walking.

Residents say their compassion and empathy come naturally — many are descended from people who fled Turkey in the 1920s.

“These are the sons and ­daughters of refugees,” said ­Father Leon Kiskinis, the priest at Lesbos’s only Catholic church, a cramped but ornately decorated ­19th-century building that with six wooden pews can nearly accommodate all 300 of the island’s Catholics. “Seeing these people now, it is the same pain, the same desperation. It’s the same story, repeated now.”

Most island residents are ­Orthodox, not Catholic. In a sign of another major Francis initiative — reconciliation within the Christian faith — the pope was accompanied Saturday by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, the spiritual leader of the world’s Orthodox Christians, as well as by Greek Archbishop Ieronymos.

In remarks to the migrants at Moria, Ieronymos denounced the “bankruptcy” of European policies that “have brought these people to this impasse.”

Bartholomew vowed to “do everything to open the eyes and hearts of the world.”

In addition to eating lunch with the migrants at Moria, Francis led a public prayer in the island’s main harbor, and publicly thanked Lesbos residents for their hospitality. He and his fellow religious leaders also dropped laurel wreathes in the sea as a memorial to those who have died making the perilous crossing.

In many respects, the Lesbos trip is part of a legacy in the making, further evidence that the pontiff is seeking to define his papacy on the issues of inequality, mercy and migrant rights.

In his first official trip as pontiff, in 2013, Francis highlighted the plight of refugees by hopping on a flight to the Italian island of Lampedusa. Back then, at the early stages of the migrant crisis, Italy was the primary entry point for migrants funneling into Europe. Shortly before his trip, a horrific shipwreck off the Libyan coast had left hundreds dead.

Last year, as the crisis escalated and the entry point shifted from Italy to Greece, Francis issued dramatic appeals to Europe’s Catholics, asking every parish, religious community, monastery and sanctuary to take in one refugee family. His call came as some of the region’s leaders, including Hungary’s Viktor Orban, were warning that waves of mostly Muslim refugees would change the face of “Christian” Europe.

“Facing the tragedy of tens of thousands of refugees — fleeing death by war and famine and journeying towards the hope of life — the Gospel calls, asking of us to be close to the smallest and forsaken. To give them a concrete hope,” Francis said.

Papal watchers said the pope’s Lesbos visit will offer a clear message to Europe and its leaders, one they may not welcome.

“Expect the usual bluster about the pope being naive and how each country has to decide what’s in its best interest,” Ivereigh said. “But most people will know he’s right and that Europeans will look back on this episode with deep shame. We didn’t take the Jews in 1930s Europe because they were too many and too different; now we refuse to take Muslims for the same reason. It takes the pope to point that out.”

Faiola reported from Berlin.

Read more

How Europe’s migrant policy is tearing families apart

Europe begins sending people back across the sea, defying human rights outcry

As the route to Europe closes, migrants journey through grief

Today’s coverage from Post correspondents around the world

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Second deadly quake hits Japan, 'race against time' to find survivors – Reuters

Japanese rescuers were digging through the rubble of buildings and mud on Saturday to reach dozens believed trapped after a powerful 7.3 magnitude earthquake struck a southern island, killing at least 26 people and injuring about a thousand.

The shallow earthquake hit in the early hours, sending people fleeing from their beds on to dark streets, and followed a 6.4 magnitude quake on Thursday which killed nine people in the area. Rain and cold were forecast overnight, adding extra urgency to the rescue effort.

Television footage showed fires, power outages, collapsed bridges, a severed road hanging over a ravine and gaping holes in the earth. Residents near a dam were told to leave because of fears it might crumble, broadcaster NHK said.

“I felt strong shaking at first, then I was thrown about like I was in a washing machine,” said a Tokai University student who remains isolated in the village of Minamiaso in Kumamoto province on the island of Kyushu.

“All the lights went out and I heard a loud noise. A lot of gas is leaking and while there hasn’t been a fire, that remains a concern,” the student, who is sheltering in a university gym with 1,000 other students and residents, told Japanese media.

About 190 of those injured were in serious condition, the government said.

Many frightened people wrapped in blankets sat outside their homes while others camped out in rice fields in rural areas surrounding the main towns. About 422,000 households were without water, and about 100,000 without electricity, the government said. Troops were setting up tents for evacuees and water trucks were being sent to the area.

Heavy rain and wind were forecast, with temperature expected to drop to 13 degrees Celsius (55 degrees Fahrenheit) overnight. Firefighters handed out tarpaulins to residents so they could cover damaged roofs.

“The wind is expected to pick up and rain will likely get heavier,” Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told a government meeting. “Rescue operations at night will be extremely difficult … It’s a race against time.”

Self Defence Forces personnel in the town of Mashiki, close to the epicenter, were providing food and water.

“I don’t mind standing in line. I’m just thankful for some food,” said a man in his 60s waiting for a meal.

Japan is on the seismically active “ring of fire” around the Pacific Ocean and has building codes aimed at helping structures withstand earthquakes.

A magnitude 9 quake in March 2011 north of Tokyo touched off a massive tsunami and nuclear meltdowns at Fukushima, contaminating water, food and air for miles around. Nearly 20,000 people were killed in the tsunami.

The epicenter of Saturday’s quake was near the city of Kumamoto and measured at a shallow depth of 10 km (six miles), the United States Geological Survey (USGS) said. The shallower a quake, the more likely it is to cause damage.

The quake triggered a tsunami advisory which was later lifted and no irregularities were reported at three nuclear power plants in the area, a senior government official said.

TSUNAMI ALERT LIFTED

The city’s 400-year-old Kumamoto Castle was badly damaged, with its walls breached after having withstood bombardment and fire in its four centuries of existence.

Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda, speaking at a G20 event in Washington, said it was too early to assess the economic impact but bank operations in Kumamoto were normal.

The USGS, which is a government scientific body, estimated that there was a 72 percent likelihood of economic damage exceeding $10 billion, adding that it was too early to be specific. Major insurers are yet to release estimates.

Electronics giant Sony Corp said a factory producing image sensors for smartphone makers would remain closed while it assessed the damage from the quakes. One of its major customers is Apple which uses the sensors in iPhones.

Toyota Motor Corp halted production at three plants producing vehicles, engines and trans axles in Fukuoka. Toyota said there was no damage at its plants, but it was checking the status of its suppliers. It will decide on Sunday whether to resume production.

Nissan Motor Co Ltd stopped production at its Fukuoka plant which produces vehicles including the Serena, Teana, Murano and Note.

South Korea said it had rented five buses to transport 200 South Korean tourists stranded in Oita, to the east of Kumamoto.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said nearly 80 people were believed trapped or buried in rubble. Rescuers managed to pull 10 students out of a collapsed university apartment in the town of Minami on Saturday.

Extra troops would be sent to help, with up to 20,000 due by Sunday, as well as more police, firefighters and medics, he said. “We are making every effort to respond,” Suga said.

The region’s transport network suffered considerable damage with one tunnel caved in, a highway bridge damaged, roads cut or blocked by landslips and train services halted, media reported. Kumamoto airport was also closed.

There have been more than 230 aftershocks of at least level 1 on the Japanese scale since Thursday’s shock, said Japan’s meteorological agency.

“We have already seen of several of the mid to upper 5 plus magnitude range, and over the next several days and weeks, we would not be surprised to see more earthquakes of this size,” said John Bellini, a geophysicist with the USGS.

(Additional reporting by Linda Sieg, Elaine Lies, William Mallard, Chris Gallagher, Jon Herskovitz and Jack Kim in Seoul; Writing by Robert Birsel, Michael Perry and Nick Macfie; Editing by Lincoln Feast, Martin Howell and Andrew Heavens)

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Japan earthquakes: Dozens killed, region 'swaying every hour' – CNN

Story highlights

  • Earthquakes hit Kyushu region Thursday and Saturday
  • A series of aftershocks followed as rescuers search for survivors
At least 23 people died in the latest Kyushu earthquake, according to Kumamoto Prefecture’s disaster management office. The 7.0-magnitude quake hit early Saturday local time.
Two days earlier, a 6.2.-magnitude quake rattled the area, killing nine people. This brought the total death toll from both earthquakes to 32. Both earthquakes left 968 people injured, according to the disaster management office.
The latest and most powerful earthquake struck near the city of Kumamoto. It toppled buildings, collapsed bridges and shredded structures into piles of debris.
At least 23 people are buried inside buildings, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said.
Residents were already reeling from the effects of the 6.2-magnitude earthquake that hit Thursday near Ueki city, just 15 kilometers away.
“The first earthquake was very big,” said Osamu Yoshizumi, the senior chief of international affairs in Kumamoto. “We thought it was the big one.”
That initial earthquake was a “foreshock” to the latest one, according to USGS.
After Saturday’s deadly quake, Kumamoto prefecture continues to experience as many as 165 aftershocks.
“I feel every aftershock,” said Yoshizumi, who was working from the city hall building in Kumamoto. “It’s swaying here every hour.”

Rescue efforts

The aftershocks could hamper rescue efforts as emergency workers attempt to pull people trapped in the rubble. TV Asahi showed crews crawling over a collapsed roof in an attempt to find an elderly couple. An 80-year-old man was pulled from the rubble, according to TV Asahi.
Japan has deployed 20,000 self-defense forces to the rescue effort, Suga said.
The stone wall of Kumamoto Castle is seen damaged by the earthquake on April 15, 2016 in Kumamoto, Japan. Kumamoto Castle is a major tourism destination.

The stone wall of Kumamoto Castle is seen damaged by the earthquake on April 15, 2016 in Kumamoto, Japan. Kumamoto Castle is a major tourism destination.

The tremors appear to have caused extensive damage, overturning cars, splitting roads and triggering a landslide as shown by TV Asahi footage. Television images showed flattened houses, shards of broken glass and debris piled onto the streets and people huddled outside. Nearly 92,000 people have evacuated, according to the prefecture’s disaster management office.
The Kumamoto government has opened over 100 evacuation centers for residents and have started handing out food, water and blankets, Yoshizumi said.
Kumamoto Castle, a famous site in Japan built in the early 17th century, is also badly damaged, he said.

Hundreds treated

The Red Cross treated more than 1,000 people in the Kumamoto area Friday, but the organization anticipates the number will increase following Saturday’s earthquake.
“The most serious [patient] cases were cut by glasses or the collapse of some houses,” said Nobuaki Sato, director of the International Relief Division at the Japanese Red Cross.
“We don’t know what is happening in the whole disaster area because it is a remote mountain area and some big bridges were down and many landslides were found so we were working around the clock and are making assessments. But so far the road access is not easy to the remote areas.”
Japan’s Fire and Disaster Management Agency said 7,262 people have sought shelter since Friday in the Kumamoto Prefecture.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had intended to visit Kumamoto on Saturday, but called off his visit. His office told CNN that the prime minister would instead spearhead efforts from Tokyo. The country’s air force will send six planes and nine ships to Kumamoto to deliver food, blankets and all emergency necessities.
Japan received offers of support from other nations.

Japan’s “Ring of Fire”

The shallow depth of the latest quake and the dense population of where it struck could prove to be devastating, according to experts.
“No question, this is a large and very important earthquake,” said Doug Given, a geophysicist with the USGS. “And it will do a lot of damage.”
“The four islands of Japan are on the edge of what’s traditionally been known as the ‘Ring of Fire'” — a stretch along parts of the Pacific Ocean prone to volcanoes and earthquakes.
Victor Sardina, a geophysicist in Honolulu, Hawaii, told CNN that the latest quake was about 30 times more powerful than the first one near Ueki. He predicted “severe, serious implications in terms of damage and human losses.”
Japanese media reported a small scale eruption of Mt. Aso on Saturday morning. It was unclear whether it’s related to the earthquake, according to the Japan’s meteorological agency.

CNN’s Junko Ogura and Yoko Wakatsuki reported from Tokyo. CNN’s Kevin Wang and Elaine Ly contributed to this report.

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Japan earthquakes: Dozens killed, region 'swaying every hour' – CNN

Story highlights

  • Earthquakes hit Kyushu region Thursday and Saturday
  • About 25 people have died in both earthquakes, authorities say
  • The region has been hit with a wave of earthquakes in a 24-hour period
At least 16 people died in the latest Kyushu earthquake, according to Kumamoto Prefecture’s disaster management office. The 7.0-magnitude quake hit early Saturday local time.
Two days earlier, a 6.2.-magnitude quake rattled the area, killing nine people.
The latest and most powerful earthquake struck near the city of Kumamoto. It toppled buildings, collapsed bridges and shredded structures into pile of debris.
At least 23 people are buried inside buildings, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said.
Residents were already reeling from the effects of the 6.2-magnitude earthquake that hit Thursday near Ueki city, just 15 kilometers away.
“The first earthquake was very big,” said Osamu Yoshizumi, the senior chief of international affairs in Kumamoto. “We thought it was the big one.”
That initial earthquake was a “foreshock” to the latest one, according to USGS.
After Saturday’s deadly quake, Kumamoto prefecture continues to experience as many as 165 aftershocks.
“I feel every aftershock,” said Yoshizumi, who was working from the city hall building in Kumamoto. “It’s swaying here every hour.”

Rescue efforts

The aftershocks could hamper rescue efforts as emergency workers attempt to pull people trapped in the rubble. TV Asahi showed crews crawling over a collapsed roof in an attempt to find an elderly couple. An 80-year-old man was pulled from the rubble, according to TV Asahi.
Japan has deployed 20,000 self-defense forces to the rescue effort, Suga said.
Rescuers and their dogs patrol in front of a collapsed house in Mashiki, Kumamoto prefecture on April 16, 2016.

Rescuers and their dogs patrol in front of a collapsed house in Mashiki, Kumamoto prefecture on April 16, 2016.

The tremors appear to have caused extensive damage, overturning cars, splitting roads and triggering a landslide as shown by TV Asahi footage. Television images showed mostly desolate streets, shards of broken glass on the streets and people huddled outside.
The Kumamoto government has opened over 100 evacuation centers for residents and have started handing out food, water and blankets, Yoshizumi said.

Hundreds treated

The Red Cross treated more than 1,000 people in the Kumamoto area Friday, but the organization anticipates the number will increase following Saturday’s earthquake.
“The most serious [patient] cases were cut by glasses or the collapse of some houses,” said Nobuaki Sato, director of the International Relief Division at the Japanese Red Cross.
“We don’t know what is happening in the whole disaster area because it is a remote mountain area and some big bridges were down and many landslides were found so we were working around the clock and are making assessments. But so far the road access is not easy to the remote areas.”
Japan’s Fire and Disaster Management Agency said 7,262 people have sought shelter since Friday in the Kumamoto Prefecture.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had intended to visit Kumamoto on Saturday, but called off his visit. His office told CNN that the prime minister would instead spearhead efforts from Tokyo.

Japan’s “Ring of Fire”

The shallow depth of the latest quake and the dense population of where it struck could prove to be devastating, according to experts.
“No question, this is a large and very important earthquake,” said Doug Given, a geophysicist with the USGS. “And it will do a lot of damage.”
“The four islands of Japan are on the edge of what’s traditionally been known as the ‘Ring of Fire'” — a stretch along parts of the Pacific Ocean prone to volcanoes and earthquakes.
Victor Sardina, a geophysicist in Honolulu, Hawaii, told CNN that the latest quake was about 30 times more powerful than the first one near Ueki. He predicted “severe, serious implications in terms of damage and human losses.”
Japanese media reported a small scale eruption of Mt. Aso on Saturday morning. It was unclear whether it’s related to the earthquake, according to the Japan’s meteorological agency.

CNN’s Yoko Wakatsuki and Junko Ogura reported from Tokyo. CNN’s Kevin Wang contributed to this report.

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Rescue crews seek survivors of 2nd Japanese quake; at least 19 dead – CNN

Story highlights

  • Rescuers scramble to find survivors in rubble of collapsed buildings
  • An expert predicts this quake “will do a lot of a damage,” notes aftershocks are likely
The death toll in the Kyushu earthquake rose to 19 people, according to Kumamoto Prefecture’s disaster management office.
The earthquake toppled buildings and shredded structures into pile of debris. At least 23 people were buried inside buildings, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said .
TV Asahi showed crews crawling over a collapsed roof in an attempt to find an elderly couple. An 80-year-old man was pulled from the rubble, TV Asahi said.
The tremors appear to have caused extensive damage, overturning cars, splitting roads and triggering a landslide as shown by TV Asahi footage. The area was rocked by as many as 165 aftershocks, some of them as strong as magnitude-5.3 struck in the hours after the quake.
Television images showed mostly desolate streets, shards of broken glass on the streets and people huddled outside.
Japan’s Fire and Disaster Management Agency said 7,262 people have sought shelter at 375 centers since Friday in Kumamoto Prefecture. Suga said 20,000 self-defense forces are being deployed to the region for rescue efforts.

Japan’s “Ring of Fire”

The U.S. Geological Survey reported that the latest quake struck just west-southwest of Kumamoto-shi and about 8 miles south-southeast of Ueki, the epicenter of the late Thursday tremor that left nine dead.
“No question, this is a large and very important earthquake,” said Doug Given, a geophysicist with the USGS. “And it will do a lot of damage.”
Given noted: “The four islands of Japan are on the edge of what’s traditionally been known as the ‘Ring of Fire'” — a stretch along parts of the Pacific Ocean prone to volcanoes and earthquakes.
Victor Sardina, a geophysicist in Honolulu, Hawaii, told CNN that the latest quake was about 30 times more powerful than Thursday’s deadly tremor. He predicted “severe, serious implications in terms of damage and human losses.”
The shallow depth of the quake — about 10 kilometers, or 6 miles — and the densely populated area where it struck could prove to be devastating, according to experts.
The quake prompted the Japan Meteorological Agency to issue a tsunami advisory for coastal regions of Japan on the Ariake Sea and Yatsushiro Sea around 2 a.m. Saturday (1 p.m. ET Friday). The agency subsequently lifted all tsunami warnings and advisories.
Japanese media reported a small scale eruption of Mt. Aso around 8:30 a.m. local time Saturday. It was unclear whether the eruption occurred in relation to the earthquake, according to the Japan’s meteorological agency.

‘Buildings were swaying and cracking’

“This looks like it’s going to be a very damaging earthquake. I think we can expect that this is going to be far worse” than Thursday’s tremor, said Tom Jordan, director of the Southern California Earthquake Center.
In short video posted to Instagram, people standing in the parking lot of a 7-Eleven in Kumamoto let out screams following an aftershock.
Journalist Mike Firn in Tokyo told CNN he felt the trembles in a building some 900 kilometers, or more than 550 miles away from the epicenter.
“The building started shaking,” he said. “It was swaying quite strongly for over a minute. … Buildings were swaying and cracking.”
The latest tremor suggests that the earthquake on Thursday was a foreshock, though USGS expert cautioned “that’s not to say that the Earth can’t produce a bigger earthquake still to follow.”
“But statistically, it’s more likely that this latest event will be followed by aftershocks, which are all smaller.”

Prime Minister on the way to the site

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will visit the earthquake-hit area in Kumamoto prefecture later Saturday, he said at a meeting at emergency response headquarters in Tokyo.
“I would like to see the site with my own eyes and hear from the victims directly,” Abe said.
Search crews were continuing to dig through rubble looking for other people trapped under collapsed buildings.
The Thursday quake struck near Ueki, the U.S. Geological Survey said. Dozens of smaller aftershocks followed.
“The ground shook for about 20 seconds before the 6.2-magnitude quake stopped,” witness Lim Ting Jie had said.
Two deaths occurred in Mashiki, the Kumamoto prefecture office said. One person died in a collapsed house, and the other died in a fire caused by the quake. Journalist Mike Fern told CNN that scores of buildings had either collapsed or caught fire, while the tremors triggered landslides, tore up roads and in one case, derailed a bullet train.
Nearly 800 people were injured, 50 severely. The prefecture office said 44,449 people had been evacuated.

Baby pulled from rubble after earlier quake

Japan had already been coping with a previous earthquake on Kyushu island on Thursday. During the search and recovery effort for the first earthquake, rescuers found an 8-month-old baby girl alive in the ruins of a home destroyed by the earlier quake on Japan’s Kyushu island.
Rescuers had been told there was a baby inside the collapsed house, but aftershocks from the quake prevented the use of heavy equipment at the site. After six hours after the infant was trapped, she was pulled from the rubble early Friday.
A rescue worker carries an eight-month-old baby girl after she was pulled from the rubble following the earthquake in Mashiki, Kumamoto Prefecture.

A rescue worker carries an eight-month-old baby girl after she was pulled from the rubble following the earthquake in Mashiki, Kumamoto Prefecture.

“It was miracle she was unharmed,” said Hidenori Watanabe, a spokesman for the Kumamoto Higashi fire department.
Fifty rescuers — wearing dark uniforms and white hard-hats with lights — scoured the large pile of rubble that just hours before had been a home. The infant’s mother and grandmother had managed to escape.
The little girl was finally found safe amid the debris in a space under one of the house’s pillars, according to Watanabe.
This happened in the middle of the night, in an area lit only by spotlights.
Carefully, rescuers passed the barefooted baby to one another, before she finally got to crews on the ground and was taken swiftly away.

A high-risk area

The largest recorded quake to hit Japan came on March 11, 2011, when a magnitude-9.0 quake centered 231 miles (372 kilometers) northeast of Tokyo devastated the country.
That quake triggered a massive tsunami that swallowed entire communities in eastern Japan. It caused catastrophic meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
The disaster killed about 22,000 people — almost 20,000 from the initial quake and tsunami, and the rest from health conditions related to the disaster.

CNN’s Yoko Wakatsuki reported from Tokyo, CNN’s Don Melvin from London and CNN’s Ralph Ellis, Greg Botelho and Ray Sanchez reported and wrote from Atlanta and New York. CNN’s Junko Ogura in Tokyo, Paul Armstrong in Hong Kong, and David Williams and Richard Beltran in Atlanta contributed to this report.

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Rescue crews seek survivors of 2nd Japanese quake; at least 7 dead – CNN

Story highlights

  • At least 7 people reported dead, many buildings damaged
  • Rescuers scramble to find survivors in rubble of collapsed buildings
  • An expert predicts this quake “will do a lot of a damage,” notes aftershocks are likely
The death toll in the Kyushu earthquake has risen to seven people, according to Kumamoto Prefecture’s disaster management office.
Numerous buildings were damaged throughout the region. TV Asahi showed crews crawling over a collapsed roof in an attempt to find an elderly couple. An 80-year-old man was pulled from the rubble, TV Asahi said.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Saturday morning that 23 cases of people being buried under structures were reported so far.
Japan’s Fire and Disaster Management Agency said 7,262 people have sought shelter at 375 centers since Friday in Kumamoto Prefecture.
Suga said 20,000 self-defense forces are being deployed to the region for rescue efforts.

Tsunami advisory issued

The U.S. Geological Survey reported that the latest quake struck just west-southwest of Kumamoto-shi and about 8 miles south-southeast of Ueki, the epicenter of the late Thursday tremor that left nine dead.
“No question, this is a large and very important earthquake,” said Doug Given, a geophysicist with the USGS. “And it will do a lot of damage.”
The quake prompted the Japan Meteorological Agency to issue a tsunami advisory for coastal regions of Japan on the Ariake Sea and Yatsushiro Sea around 2 a.m. Saturday (1 p.m. ET Friday). Tsunami advisories are issued when the tsunami height is expected to be between 0.2 and 1 meter (0.65 to 3.3 feet). A warning would be for larger tsunamis.
The agency subsequently lifted all tsunami warnings and advisories.
As Given noted, “the four islands of Japan are on the edge of what’s traditionally been known as the ‘Ring of Fire'” — a stretch along parts of the Pacific Ocean prone to volcanoes and earthquakes.
Victor Sardina, a geophysicist in Honolulu, Hawaii, told CNN that the latest quake was about 30 times more powerful than Thursday’s deadly tremor. He predicted “severe, serious implications in terms of damage and human losses.”
The shallow depth of the quake — about 10 kilometers, or 6 miles — and the densely populated area where it struck could prove to be devastating, according to experts.

‘Buildings were swaying and cracking’

“This looks like it’s going to be a very damaging earthquake. I think we can expect that this is going to be far worst” than Thursday’s tremor, said Tom Jordan, director of the Southern California Earthquake Center.
Television images showed mostly desolate streets, damaged buildings and shards of broken glass on the streets. Aftershocks as strong as magnitude-5.3 struck in the hours after the quake. In one part of Kumamoto-shi, dozens of people gathered outside in the night, sitting on the street away from buildings, some on blankets.
In short video posted to Instagram, people standing in the parking lot of a 7-Eleven in Kumamoto let out screams following an aftershock.
Journalist Mike Firn in Tokyo told CNN he felt the temblor in a building some 900 kilometers, or more than 550 miles away from the epicenter.
“The building started shaking,” he said. “It was swaying quite strongly for over a minute. … Buildings were swaying and cracking.”
The latest tremor suggests that the one Thursday was a foreshock, though USGS expert cautioned “that’s not to say that the Earth can’t produce a bigger earthquake still to follow.”
“But statistically, it’s more likely that this latest event will be followed by aftershocks, which are all smaller.”

Baby pulled from rubble after earlier quake

This happened about a full day after rescuers found an 8-month-old baby girl — alive — in the ruins of a home destroyed by the earlier quake on Japan’s Kyushu island.
Rescuers had been told there was a baby inside the collapsed house, but aftershocks from the quake prevented the use of heavy equipment at the site. After six hours after the infant was trapped, she was pulled from the rubble early Friday.
A rescue worker carries an eight-month-old baby girl after she was pulled from the rubble following the earthquake in Mashiki, Kumamoto Prefecture.

A rescue worker carries an eight-month-old baby girl after she was pulled from the rubble following the earthquake in Mashiki, Kumamoto Prefecture.

“It was miracle she was unharmed,” said Hidenori Watanabe, a spokesman for the Kumamoto Higashi fire department.
Fifty rescuers — wearing dark uniforms and white hard-hats with lights — scoured the large pile of rubble that just hours before had been a home. The infant’s mother and grandmother had managed to escape.
The little girl was finally found safe amid the debris in a space under one of the house’s pillars, according to Watanabe.
This happened in the middle of the night, in an area lit only by spotlights.
Carefully, rescuers passed the barefooted baby to one another, before she finally got to crews on the ground and was taken swiftly away.

Prime Minister on the way to the site

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will visit the earthquake-hit area in Kumamoto prefecture later Saturday, he said at a meeting at emergency response headquarters in Tokyo.
“I would like to see the site with my own eyes and hear from the victims directly,” Abe said.
Search crews were continuing to dig through rubble looking for other people trapped under collapsed buildings.
The Thursday quake struck near Ueki, the U.S. Geological Survey said. Dozens of smaller aftershocks followed.
“The ground shook for about 20 seconds before the 6.2-magnitude quake stopped,” witness Lim Ting Jie said.
Two deaths occurred in Mashiki, the Kumamoto prefecture office said. One person died in a collapsed house, and the other died in a fire caused by the quake. Journalist Mike Fern told CNN that scores of buildings had either collapsed or caught fire, while the tremors triggered landslides, tore up roads and in one case, derailed a bullet train.
Nearly 800 people were injured, 50 severely. The prefecture office said 44,449 people had been evacuated.
Abe told Parliament early Friday — hours before the larger quake hit — that he’d mobilized 3,000 members of Japan’s Self-Defense Forces, police and fire services to join the rescue effort following the first quake. He said the government is “racing against the clock and will provide more personnel if necessary.”

A high-risk area

The largest recorded quake to hit Japan came on March 11, 2011, when a magnitude-9.0 quake centered 231 miles (372 kilometers) northeast of Tokyo devastated the country.
That quake triggered a massive tsunami that swallowed entire communities in eastern Japan. It caused catastrophic meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
The disaster killed about 22,000 people — almost 20,000 from the initial quake and tsunami, and the rest from health conditions related to the disaster.
Jie said Thursday’s quake gave him a new appreciation for life.
“This experience has helped me to treasure my family members and relatives even more, and not take what I have and the people who support me for granted.”

CNN’s Yoko Wakatsuki reported from Tokyo, CNN’s Don Melvin from London and CNN’s Ralph Ellis, Greg Botelho and Ray Sanchez reported and wrote from Atlanta and New York. CNN’s Junko Ogura in Tokyo, Paul Armstrong in Hong Kong, and David Williams and Richard Beltran in Atlanta contributed to this report.

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Former TV 'Apprentices' denounce Trump White House bid – Reuters

A group of former contestants on Donald Trump’s reality television show “The Apprentice” put their old boss in the hot seat on Friday, saying the U.S. Republican front-runner has widened racial divisions and should not be president.

Trump’s one-time admirers, most from racial minorities, urged the New York billionaire to tamp down his divisive rhetoric as he campaigns to succeed Democratic President Barack Obama in the Nov. 8 election.

“We are all disappointed and in some ways shocked to see what is being spewed from Donald regarding his views on women, immigrants, and the list goes on,” said Randal Pinkett, winner of the 2005 fourth season of the reality television show.

“We strongly condemn Donald’s campaign of sexism, xenophobia, racism, violence and hate,” he said at a news conference in Manhattan. Pinkett said Trump “is not worthy of the highest office of the land,” and said there had been glimpses of those attitudes in private conversations and time spent off-screen with Trump during the making of the TV show.

Running for 14 seasons, “The Apprentice” gave Trump a national platform, and his often blunt and unfiltered style helped make the show a major hit. The show featured groups of business-minded contestants vying for a titular apprenticeship in Trump’s organization. At its peak, nearly 21 million people watched the show.

Trump’s proposals to ban Muslims from entering the United States and to build a wall at the Mexican border have drawn criticism even within his party. His campaign has been accused of tacitly encouraging violence at large and rowdy rallies where Trump supporters have at times clashed with protesters.

On Friday evening, as protests broke out at a rally in Hartford, Connecticut, Trump belted out his usual response: “Get them out of here!”

“I always say ‘don’t hurt that person, right?'” he said.

Pinkett told Reuters he had contacted former “apprentices” and said their effort was independent and timed to precede New York state’s crucial primary election on Tuesday. At the news conference, Pinkett was joined by former “Apprentice” contestants Tara Dowdell and Kwame Jackson; another former contestant, Marshawn Evans Daniels, participated via video link.

“FAILING WANNABES”

Their efforts seemed unlikely to dent Trump’s comfortable advantage in New York opinion polls against Republican rivals Ohio Governor John Kasich and U.S. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas.

Trump dismissed his former aspiring protégés on Friday as “failing wannabes out of hundreds of contestants.”

“How quickly they forget. Nobody would know who they are if it weren’t for me,” he said in a statement. “They just want to get back into the limelight like they had when they were with Trump. Total dishonesty and disloyalty.”

Trump pulled ahead of Cruz and Kasich this week in the national Reuters/Ipsos opinion poll. Among Republicans, 45 percent support Trump, compared with 29 percent for Cruz and 21 percent for Kasich.

On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are tied at 47 percent. The poll had a credibility interval of 4.6 percentage points.

NEW YORK POST ENDORSEMENT

In an apparent bid to establish a more presidential footing, Trump turned from his usual platform of Twitter to the opinion pages of The Wall Street Journal to denounce the Republican National Committee over a nomination process he said was rigged.

Friday’s piece, along with an endorsement by tabloid newspaper the New York Post, signaled a possible detente with media magnate Rupert Murdoch, whose News Corp (NWSA.O) owns both newspapers. A News Corp spokesman declined to comment on the relationship between the two billionaires.

Murdoch took to Twitter last year to denounce Trump’s comments that many illegal immigrants from Mexico were bringing crime to the United States, tweeting: “Trump wrong.” The Journal in July called Trump a “catastrophe” in a withering editorial.

Trump on Wednesday met privately with Fox News Channel anchor Megyn Kelly after a feud that had lasted months. Another Murdoch-controlled company, 21st Century Fox (FOXA.O), owns the channel.

NBC, the network that aired “The Apprentice,” cut ties with Trump last year after he described some Mexican immigrants as criminals and rapists. Trump’s other well-known NBC venture, the Miss USA pageant and Miss Universe pageants, was also dropped from the line-up around that time.

Other “Apprentice” contestants have backed Trump, including actors Stephen Baldwin, Gary Busey and Lou Ferrigno, former basketball star Dennis Rodman and reality television star Jesse James.

Pinkett, however, in remarks directed at Trump, said: “I am calling, we are calling, for you to do better.”

(Additional reporting by Chris Kahn in New York, Bill Trott in Washington; Writing by Alana Wise and Doina Chiacu; Editing by Howard Goller and Leslie Adler)

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