Vatican City, Aug 16, 2017 / 07:54 am (CNA/EWTN News).- With hundreds dead and nearly 600 more still missing as a result of a giant mudslide that ravished Sierra Leone’s capital, Pope Francis has prayed for the victims, their families and rescue workers providing relief to those affected.
“Deeply saddened by the devastating consequences of the mudslide on the outskirts of Freetown, His Holiness Pope Francis assures those who have lost loved ones of his closeness at this difficult time,” read an Aug. 16 telegram signed by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin read.
Addressed to Freetown’s Archbishop Charles Edward Tamba, the telegram relayed the Pope’s sympathies, and assured of his prayer for all who have died.
The telegram comes two days after a flooding and a large mudslide killed some 400 people in Sierra Leone’s capital city of Freetown Monday, and have left some 600 still missing.
According to BBC, a mass burial of victims that had been scheduled for Wednesday in order to free up space in mortuaries has been delayed as the “chaotic” disaster continues to unfold.
Flooding is not uncommon in the overcrowded town of one million, leaving those who live in unsafe, makeshift housing especially at risk during natural disasters. However, Monday’s slide is thought to be the worst incident in the past two decades.
At least 100 houses were wiped out when a hillside in Regent, a mountain town some 15 miles east of Freetown, collapsed, submerging entire buildings and taking people with them.
Bodies have continued to be retrieved from the mud and rubble, but efforts to identify them are proving difficult in the chaos.
In his telegram, the Pope not only offered his prayers for the victims, but he also extended “divine blessings of strength and consolation” upon their families.
Francis also expressed his “prayerful solidarity with the rescue workers and all involved in providing the much needed relief and support to the victims of this disaster.”