Pope Benedict XVI asked God to welcome the dead and comfort the living after a tragic boat accident occurred in the Democratic Republic of Congo last week.
A ferry boat capsized on the Congo's Kasai River on July 28, leading to the drowning deaths of at least 140 people, according to Fides news. Kinshasa's DIA news agency reported that a lack of regulations on waterways led to the tragedy and noted that "every year more than 2,000 of our fellow country men and women die this way."
Reacting to the news, Vatican Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone wrote to the president of Congolese bishops, Bishop Nicholas Djomo, with Pope Benedict XVI's condolences.
Remembering the victims, the Pope asked that the "God of mercy welcome the dead into his eternal light and bring comfort to the wounded." He also prayed that the families of those who disappeared "might have the courage and find support and assistance ... to get through this painful ordeal."
"As a token of consolation," wrote Cardinal Bertone, "the Pope asks God to make the abundance of His blessings descend over all."
The tragedy took place as the country celebrates its 50th year of independence, an event that discussed during Congolese president Denis Sassou N'guesso's visit to the Vatican last May.