Vatican City, Apr 4, 2013 / 04:52 am
The Pope is praying for the 54 people who have died in flooding that hit two cities in Argentina and is also appealing for aid to those made homeless by the disaster.
"Pope Francis, deeply saddened by the news of the serious damage caused by the torrential rains over the past days, offers prayers to the Lord for the eternal rest of those who died, at the same time wanting to express his paternal, spiritual closeness to all those affected and their families," reads an April 4 telegram sent to Archbishop Aurelio Poli of Buenos Aires.
After the nation's capital and the nearby metropolis of La Plata were inundated with rain on April 1 and 2, Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone sent the message on behalf of the Pope.
In La Plata, a city of almost 1 million people, survivors described the water gushing up through the drains in their kitchens and bathrooms.
According to local reports, La Plata was hit the hardest, with 16 inches of rain falling in two hours on Tuesday evening, while Buenos Aires received four inches earlier in the day.
The deluge has left thousands of people stranded on the roofs of their houses, in trees or in cars, waiting to be rescued, according to the Argentinian Red Cross.
In his message, Pope Francis encouraged "civil and ecclesiastical institutions, as well as all people of good will, to provide in a spirit of charity and Christian solidarity the necessary help those who have lost their homes or personal belongings."
The Pope's telegram finished with him imparting his apostolic blessing to "those affected and those who come to their assistance … as a sign of his closeness to the dear people of Argentina."