The 152 passengers were from the French island of Martinique and the eight crew members were Colombians.
Before leaving for Germany to attend World Youth Day, the Pope sent a telegram to Archbishop Michel Méranville, archbishop of Fort-de-France, Martinique, in which he assured his “spiritual closeness to all those who have been affected by the tragedy.”
In the telegram, sent on the Pope’s behalf by Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Vatican secretary of state, Benedict XVI “commends the deceased to divine mercy and prays that the Almighty will welcome them in his peace and light.”
At the same time, the Pontiff implores God’s “support and consolation for all the severely tried persons, hoping that they will find around them the help they need in these painful hours.”
The West Caribbean Airways jet crashed in Venezuela on a flight from Panama to Martinique. The pilot radioed authorities saying that both engines had failed.