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Pope Francis prays for victims of glacier-caused flash flood in India

Pope Francis prays with journalists on the papal flight en route to South Korea August 14 2014 Credit Alan Holdren CNA CNA 8 14 14 Pope Francis prays with journalists on the papal flight to South Korea, Aug. 14, 2014./ Alan Holdren/CNA.

Pope Francis has voiced his prayers for the victims of a glacier-caused flash flood in India’s northern Uttarakhand state, as rescuers seek to save workers trapped in underground tunnels.

“I express my closeness to the victims of the calamity that happened in India where part of a glacier separated itself provoking violent flooding that devastated two power plants,” Pope Francis said on Twitter Feb. 10. “I pray for the workers who died, for their families and for all those who were wounded.”

Part of a Himalayan glacier and large rocks supporting it are believed to have broken off Raunthi peak, some 18,372 feet tall. The mass fell into a relatively narrow mountain stream at about 11,800 feet elevation. The obstructed stream then rose until its waters burst through the obstruction. The water and debris breached a dam downstream, causing massive floods, BBC News reports.

At least 32 people are dead and more than 170 missing. While a dozen workers trapped at a hydro power plant tunnel have been rescued, search efforts are ongoing, BBC News reports.

“My heart weeps for the victims and their families. Many workers are still missing; I pray that they will be found soon and receive medical assistance,” Cardinal Oswald Gracias of Bombay, president of the Catholic Bishops Conference of India, told AsiaNews.

India’s Catholic bishops have pledged assistance, the news site Matters India reports.

“Our own Caritas Institutes will render all assistance we can,” Cardinal Gracias said in a statement, voicing hope that they can offer “succor and hope to the affected people.”

The Catholic bishops voiced grief at the disaster and offered condolences to the families of the dead and missing. They said they were grateful for government response efforts.

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