Pope John Paul II expressed his grief over the double-air disaster, which took place in Russia Aug. 24 and left 98 dead, in a telegram that was sent to the apostolic nuncio in Moscow yesterday.
The two planes left Moscow airport Tuesday morning and both dropped off the radar at around the same time. One plane crashed 200 km south of Moscow in the region of Tula; the other plane came down 800-km further south, near Rostov-on-Don. Russian authorities have issued an investigation. The possibility of terrorism has not been ruled out entirely.
Angelo Cardinal Sodano, the Vatican’s Secretary of State, sent the telegram on the pontiff’s behalf.
In it, the Pope charges the nuncio, Bishop Antonio Mennini, with expressing his “sentiments of great sorrow” to the Russian authorities and to the families of the victims.
The Pope said he is praying for the deceased and that “God will comfort those who suffer this great loss of their loved ones.”