Pope Mourns for Victims of Egypt Plane Crash

VATICAN CITY, JAN. 6, 2004 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II expressed his profound sympathy for the death of 148 passengers who died in a Paris-bound jetliner that crashed after takeoff from Sharm el-Sheik, Egypt.

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In a telegram sent to Archbishop Fortunato Beldelli, apostolic nuncio in France, the Pope «expresses his heartfelt condolences to the families affected and assures all those hit by this catastrophe of his solidarity and spiritual closeness.»

The message, sent on behalf of the Holy Father by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Angelo Sodano, states that the Pontiff «entrusts those who died to the mercy of God and asks God Almighty to embrace them in his peace and light.»

John Paul II concludes by asking «God to sustain and console all the persons who are so harshly tried by this drama, with the hope that they may be able to find the help that they need in these sorrowful hours.»

The dead included 133 French tourists. The Boeing 737 plunged into the deep waters of the Red Sea on Saturday, near the tourist center of Sharm el-Sheik.

French Deputy Foreign Minister Renaud Muselier, who visited Sharm el-Sheik after the accident, said Monday there was no reason to suspect a terrorist attack.

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