Friday, February 23, 2024

Pope Francis close to families and victims of deadly Valencia fire

Pope Francis is “closely following the news of the terrible fire in an apartment building in Valencia’s Campanar suburb in eastern Spain, in which lives have already been lost” and he assures all those affected of his spiritual closeness and prayers.

The Pope’s words of concern and closeness came in a telegram on Friday, signed on his behalf by Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, and addressed to the Archbishop of Valencia, Enrique Benavent Vidal.

Four people have been confirmed dead and 14 others are still missing following the fire that broke out at the 14-storey residential complex on Thursday.

The Pope said that “while commending the souls of the deceased to divine mercy,” he assures “the people of Valencia and all the families of those affected of his spiritual closeness, and prays to the Lord to give them strength in this moment of pain.”

He also said he prays for the sustainment of the firefighters and of those involved in search and rescue operations.

“With these sentiments,” the telegram concludes, the Pope invokes the intercession of the Patron of Valencia, Nuestra Senora de Los Desamparados, and of Spanish Patron Saint Joseph, and he imparts his apostolic blessing as a pledge of hope in the Risen Christ.

Three days of mourning

Fifteen people were treated for injuries and five remained in city hospitals on Friday, including four firefighters. All were said to be stable.

Authorities have announced three days of mourning and Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez visited the scene, promising support for those affected and expressing gratitude to firefighters and military personnel who worked to extinguish the blaze.

It was not immediately known how many people were in the two buildings when the fire broke out, but dozens are believed to have lost their homes and belongings. The complex had some 140 apartments.