Benedict XVI Expresses Grief Over Nigeria Jet Crash

Many Victims Were Catholic-School Students

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VATICAN CITY, DEC. 12, 2005 ( Benedict XVI expressed his profound sympathy for the air accident in Nigeria that killed numerous students of a Catholic school.

In a telegram sent in his name by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Angelo Sodano to Bishop Alexius Obabu Makozi of Port Harcourt, the Pope manifests his closeness to the victims’ relatives.

«Saddened by news of the great loss of life in the air tragedy near Port Harcourt, the Holy Father asks you kindly to convey his heartfelt condolences to the families of the victims,» the telegram reads.

«He commends the dead to the eternal mercies of Almighty God and invokes the divine blessings of strength and peace upon all who mourn and upon all engaged in the work of relief,» the message adds.

More than 70 of the 107 victims of the accident, which occurred Saturday, were children and teen-agers, students of the Loyola Jesuit College of Abuja, who were on their way home for the Christmas holidays, reported Vatican Radio.

The plane was a DC-9 of the Sosoliso Airlines, which left Abuja, the Nigerian capital, and burst into flames just before landing in the airport of the city of Port Harcourt. It was carrying 103 passengers and seven crew members.

The three survivors of the crash are in critical condition.

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