Pontiff Laments Train, Plane Tragedies

Expresses Condolences for 165 Lives Lost

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VATICAN CITY, JUNE 30, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI is expressing condolences for victims of two recent tragedies: a train explosion that claimed 12 lives in Italy and an accident over the Indian Ocean involving 153 passengers.

The Pope sent a telegram to the people of Viareggio, in Northern Italy, where a freight train carrying gas was derailed and exploded in the town Monday night.

Fires broke out and homes collapsed due to the explosion, killing at least 12 people, and injuring some 50 others. Rescuers are still searching for missing villagers.

The Pontiff’s message, sent today through his secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, to Archbishop Benvenuto Italo Castellani of Lucca, expressed his «heartfelt participation in the suffering afflicting the entire city.»

It continued: «While giving assurances of his fervent prayers for the souls of those who have so tragically died, he invokes from the Lord a speedy recovery for the injured and, entrusting those affected by this dramatic event to the maternal protection of the Virgin Mary, he sends a special and consoling apostolic blessing.»

The Holy Father sent a second telegram through Cardinal Bertone to Archbishop Paul-Mounged El-Hachem, apostolic nuncio to Kuwait, as well as Yemen several other Arab nations, expressing sorrow for the crash of a Yemeni plane carrying 153 passengers.

Early this morning, the plane was attempting to land in the Comoros, a group of islands between Africa and Madagascar, when it crashed into the Indian Ocean.

The Yemenia Airways plane was en route from Saana, Yemen, and included 66 French nationals who originated in Paris and were on their way to the former French colony of Comoros.

The Pope expressed condolences and prayers for families of the victims and entrusted the deceased to God’s mercy.

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