Volunteer dies in accident after pope’s Mass in Philippines

Pope Francis points at the statue of Jesus during his speech as he celebrates a mass in Tacloban, Philippines, Saturday, Jan. 17, 2015. A rain-drenched but lively crowd wearing yellow and white raincoats welcomed Pope Francis in the typhoon-ravage central Philippine city of Tacloban early Saturday, chanting "Papa Francesco, Viva il Papa!" (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

TACLOBAN, Philippines (AP) — A church volunteer died after she was hit by scaffolding following a Mass celebrated Saturday by Pope Francis in the central Philippine city of Tacloban, police said.

The 27-year-old woman was a volunteer with Catholic Relief Services and was among about 150,000 people who attended the rain-drenched religious ceremonies close to Tacloban’s seaside airport, said regional police chief Asher Dolina.

The pope visited Tacloban to comfort victims of a deadly 2013 typhoon.

Vatican spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi said the pope was informed about the woman’s death after returning to Manila. The pope cut short his visit to Tacloban because of an approaching storm that brought rain and strong winds to the city.

Francis asked his aides “to investigate how he could show his own suffering in solidarity with the (woman’s) family,” Lombardi said.

ABS-CBN television cited the medical director of the hospital where the woman was taken as saying she died from a skull fracture.

Local media reported the scaffolding was used as a loudspeaker platform and was toppled by a sudden gust of wind.

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