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Catholic aid worker dies in accident after pope's Mass

High winds cause scaffolding to collapse as Typhoon Mekkhala bears down on Philippines

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Catholic aid worker dies in accident after pope's Mass

A Catholic aid worker was killed after scaffolding holding a large speaker stack collapsed on Saturday after Pope Francis' Mass for disaster victims in Tacloban.

Kristel Mae Padasas, 27 years old, was pronounced dead at about 2pm at the St Paul's Hospital in Tacloban. 

Padasas worked for Catholic Relief Services, a humanitarian aid agency of the US Catholic Church.

Health Secretary Janette Garin, who was in Tacloban for the pope's visit, told Rappler that Padasas had been alive when she arrived at the hospital, but had died of "massive blood loss" due to a major head injury.

"It is unfortunate that it happened shortly after she was able to see the pope in person," Garin said.

Padasas was waiting for the papal convoy when strong winds blew over the scaffolding supporting a speaker stack, which struck her on the head.

Padasas' family in Bicol has already been informed about the accident, Garin said.

In a separate incident, three people who attended the papal Mass in Tacloban were rushed to a hospital after they were pinned by a barricade, the Philippine Red Cross reported. 

The Red Cross reported that it has already served at least 391 patients who attended the papal Mass. 

"Whatever happened, we are still grateful that Pope Francis has visited us," said Fr Amadeo Alvero, spokesman of the Archdiocese of Palo. 

He said that although the typhoon shortened the pontiff's visit, "the pope’s time spent with us is considered a blessing".

"Our faith in God and our church have strengthened," the priest added.

On Saturday afternoon, as Typhoon Mekkhala bore down, state weather forecasting agency Pagasa had placed most areas in Eastern Visayas region, including Palo and Tacloban, under typhoon signal number 2.  

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