At least 15 people were killed and more than 100 injured when the explosion ripped through the underground pipeline in the industrial zone of Ghislenghien, near the town of Ath, 25 miles southwest of Brussels.
"There were bodies in parking lots, in the fields, burned out cars over a 500-yard radius," fire department spokesman Francis Boileau said. "It looks like a war zone."
In the telegram, Cardinal Sodano says that "having learned of the tragedy that has struck the region of Ath in southern Belgium, the Pope has asked me to let you know that he is joined in prayer to the persons who have been struck by this drama."
"He entrusts the deceased to the mercy of the Lord, that He may welcome them in His peace. He prays for the many wounded and their families, that they may be surrounded by support and comfort in their trials. He encourages the rescue workers and the many hospital people in their important mission of receiving and assisting the wounded, and bringing help to the families and inhabitants of the region."
"Asking the Lord to be close to everyone, the Holy Father extends to the wounded, their families and all persons touched by this calamity his Apostolic Blessing," the telegram concludes.