ROME – Pope Francis Tuesday sent his condolences to victims of wildfires in Greece and flooding caused by the collapse of a hydroelectric dam in southeast Laos, expressing his “heartfelt solidarity” with those affected.
Sent through Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin July 24, Francis said he “was deeply saddened” to learn of recent wildfires in Greece, which have killed more than 60 people in the Attica region around Athens, according to the BBC.
The pope commended those who died “to the merciful love of Almighty God,” invoking the consolation and strength of the Lord for the mourning and offered encouragement to civil authorities and emergency personnel in their continued rescue efforts.
At least 60 people have been killed and 100 more injured in the worst wildfires in Greece in more than 10 years.
Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople also sent a statement July 24 on the wildfires, saying he has been watching with shock “the dramatic developments in the Attica region” causing loss of human life, property, and forest.
“Our prayers intensify and join those of the Archbishop of Athens Ieronymos and the metropolitans of the affected regions,” he continued. “May God help to stop this massive human and ecological disaster, whose consequences are undoubtedly incalculable,” and give strength to “the families of the victims and the injured.”
Francis also sent a telegram for those who have lost their lives or been injured in serious floods caused by the collapse of a hydroelectric dam in Laos. The telegram said he is praying in particular “for the repose of the deceased, the healing of those injured and the consolation of all those who grieve the loss of their loved ones and who fear for the lives of those still missing.”
He also sent his blessing and encouragement for those engaged in search and rescue efforts.
Almost 7,000 people have been made homeless since the start of Monday’s flash floods following the collapse of a hydroelectric dam under construction in Attapeu province, Lao News Agency reported.
The flash flooding through six villages “has claimed several human lives” with hundreds more missing, the agency stated.
According to the BBC, construction of the dam began in 2013 and was due to be completed and begin operation next year.