Through the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, Pope Francis sent some $50,000 to the Archdiocese of La Plata in his native Argentina as emergency aid for victims of the flash floods that swept through the capital and surrounding areas.
Up to now the number of dead from the April 2 storm, which was aggravated by the swelling of the river Matanza, rises to 51, according to data from the Buenos Aires government. To these are added six from Buenos Aires, where the storm hit first before reaching La Plata, a city located some 60 kilometers (37 miles) to the southeast.
While the number of evacuees was more than 1,000, unofficial sources reported that in La Plata there are still many bodies to be identified.
“The solidarity of people has been unbelievable. Caritas, the Red Cross and thousands of people are working to help,” a local source informed ZENIT, adding that the cathedral of La Plata is one of the reception centers of aid and its steps are receiving donations of food, medicines and other first aid necessities, which together with other donations of the archdiocese are being channeled through Caritas, together with the Food Bank.
Commenting on the papal donation, apostolic nuncio in Buenos Aires Emil Paul Tscherring said he believes that Pope Francis “wished to express in this concrete way his spiritual closeness to all those suffering and to those who are generously giving help and support.”
Archbishop Héctor Aguer of La Plata, who is in Rome at present and met with the Pope on April 3, is following closely through the archbishopric what is happening in his archdiocese.
“Preoccupied and grieving over the suffering of his archdiocesan faithful, the archbishop is paying close attention to the unfolding of events, praying by the tomb of Saint Peter,” indicated the archbishopric, adding that “all the seminarians, under the direction of the rector, Canon Gabriel Delgado, offered shelter, food and clothing to dozens of affected people, both neighbors as well as passengers of public transport, who also spent the night there.”
After attending the annual meeting of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America, Archbishop Aguer, who will return to La Plata on April 14, established that Mass be celebrated on Sunday, April 7, in all the parishes of the archdiocese for those killed by the storm, and those affected, praying for more support for those who have been flooded.