Pope Francis is encouraging prayer after an explosion at a fertilizer plant in Texas on Wednesday night killed as many as 15 people and wounded more than 160 others.
The Holy Father exhorted the faithful to pray via his Twitter account, @pontifex.
“Please join me in praying for the victims of the explosion in Texas and their families,” the Pope tweeted early this morning, Texas time.
The West Fertilizer Co. plant explosion had the impact of a small earthquake, registering 2.1. At least 75 homes near the fertilizer plant were destroyed, as were a middle school and a nursing home. Investigators are still looking into what caused the explosion, and emergency crews are still looking for survivors.
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The Pope’s Twitter account has more than 5 million followers in nine languages, with some 2.3 million in English.
This is the first time he has used Twitter to appeal for prayers following a disaster, however in his pontificate of just over a month, he has already sent 18 tweets.
“Francis has a simple lifestyle and isn’t big on new technologies and yet his preaching is ideal for tweets,” Fr. Federico Lombardi, director of the Vatican press office, explained to Vatican Insider last week.
“The Pope’s catechesis is full of words that are dense in meaning and phrases that are very efficient and are repeated again and again so as to embed them in the memories of faithful,” Fr. Lombardi said. “His way of expressing himself is ideal for Twitter as it can be translated easily into concise and inspirational points to reflect on.”