Vatican City, Mar 26, 2018 / 09:52 am (CNA/EWTN News).- On Monday Pope Francis sent his prayers and condolences for victims of an alleged terrorist attack in southern France, and for those affected by a fire inside a shopping mall in Russia which has killed at least 64 people.
A fire broke out on the top floor of the Winter Cherry shopping and entertainment complex in Kemerovo, Russia on Sunday afternoon, engulfing the building and collapsing the roofs of two cinemas, Russia’s Investigative Committee stated.
According to the BBC, at the time of the fire, local schools were on break and the shops, cinema, and bowling alley inside the mall were filled with people. As of Monday, 10 people are still missing.
The shopping mall was located inside a former factory with few doors and windows. The cause of the fire is still under investigation.
Sent on behalf of the Holy Father by Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the March 26 telegram stated that the Pope “was deeply saddened to learn of the fire” and that he offered “heartfelt condolences to all those affected by this tragedy.”
“Entrusting the deceased, especially the many children who lost their lives, to the merciful love of God Almighty, His Holiness offers the assurance of his prayers for all who mourn their loss,” the message read.
The Pope also expressed his spiritual closeness to the authorities and emergency personnel assisting the injured and searching for the missing people, invoking “divine blessings of peace and consolation.”
Pope Francis also sent a telegram March 26 for the victims of an alleged terrorist attack in the south of France.
According to the Guardian, March 23 Moroccan-native Radouane Lakdim, 25, stopped a car on the outskirts of Carcassonne, shooting and killing the passenger and seriously injuring the driver. He then took the car and drove to a police squad barracks, where he also shot and seriously wounded two officers.
The gunman then drove to a supermarket in the nearby village of Trebes. Upon entering the store, he shouted ‘Allahu Akbar’ and opened fire, killing one customer and one employee before taking several people hostage.
A French gendarme, Lt. Col. Arnaud Beltrame, who volunteered to take the place of the hostages, was also shot and injured. He later died from his injuries, the French interior ministry stated. The attacker was also killed by police when they stormed the building.
The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the attack, the Guardian reports.
On March 26 Francis sent a telegram expressing his sorrow for those who lost their lives, entrusting them “to the mercy of God” and uniting himself in prayer “to the pain of their relatives.”
He also stated his sympathy for those who were wounded, their families, and anyone else affected by the tragedy, asking the Lord to comfort and console them.
“I particularly welcome the generous and heroic act of Lieutenant-Colonel Arnaud Beltrame, who gave his life wanting to protect people,” he continued. “I again condemn such acts of indiscriminate violence which cause so much suffering, and fervently ask God for the gift of peace.”