Pope Benedict to visit quake region

Pope Benedict to visit quake region Rome - Pope Benedict XVI plans to visit the earthquake-hit central Italian region on April 28, the Vatican announced Saturday.

Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi made the announcement, coming after Benedict had said over the Eastern holidays that he hoped to visit the heavily damaged city of L'Aquila as soon as possible in order to boost the local residents' morale.

The April 6 quake claimed 294 lives and destroyed or seriously damaged thousands of homes. Tens of thousands of survivors are now living in tent encampments. (dpa)