Pope Francis offers prayer, condolences after Colombia plane crash

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

After a plane crash in Colombia claimed the lives of 71 people, including the majority of Brazil's up and coming Chapecoense soccer team, Pope Francis has offered his prayer and solidarity for the victims and their families.

"Deeply distressed to learn of the sad news of the serious plane accident which has caused many victims," Pope Francis "raises his prayers for the eternal rest of the deceased," a Nov. 30 telegram signed by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin read.

Addressed to Bishop Fidel Leon Cadavid Marin of Sonson-Rionegro in the province of Medellin, Colombia, the letter asked the bishop to convey the Pope's "sentiment of condolences" to the families of the victims and to all those "who cry for so grievous a loss."

Francis offered his affection, and prayed that those mourning would find "solidarity and counsel." He asked that the Lord pour out on all those affected by the tragedy "the gifts of spiritual serenity and of Christian hope," and gave his apostolic blessing.

On Monday evening local time in Colombia, LAMIA Flight 2933 crashed into a Colombian mountainside with 77 people on board, only 6 of whom survived the accident.

The majority of the passengers were either players, coaches or guests from Brazil's Chapecoense soccer team, as well as around 20 journalists traveling to cover the first leg of the team's journey through the South American Cup finals, set to take place Wednesday, Nov. 30.

According to CNN, the flight took off from Bolivia's Viru Viru International Airport in the early evening local time, and sent an emergency signal from between the municipalities of La Ceja and La Union. The crash itself took place in an area called Cerro El Gordo, located near Medellin.

In what has been called by many as a "Cinderella story," the Chapecoense team is number nine in Brazil's Serie A league, and has surprised many with their high performance in the tournament so far this year.

Fans shocked by the tragedy gathered at the Arena Conda in their hometown of Chapeco, Brazil, Tuesday to mourn their loss.

In a separate telegram, the Pope asked Cardinal Dom Sergio Da Rocha, president of the Brazilian Bishops Conference, to convey his condolences and "participation in the pain" of all those who are suffering.

He entrusted the deceased to "the Father of Mercy," and asked for "comfort and restoration" for all the wounded.

Francis also prayed for courage and "the consolation of Christian hope for all those affected by the tragedy," and he sent his apostolic blessing as a means of consolation to all those seeking comfort in their suffering.

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