Vatican City, Feb 23, 2010 / 11:13 am (CNA).- The Holy Father offered his profound condolences today for the victims of the recent flooding on the Portuguese island of Madeira. In a telegram to the Bishop Antonio Jose Cavaco Carrilho of Funchal, he said that he was "dismayed with the "grave consequences" of the disaster.
Torrential rains hammered the island of Madeira in the Atlantic over the weekend, swelling rivers and leaving the coastal city of Funchal "thigh deep in mud," according to Agence France Presse. At least 42 people perished in the tragedy.
The papal telegram comes on the second of three days of mourning decreed by the Portuguese goverment for the victims. Through the letter signed by Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone, the Holy Father wished to "assure the whole local community" that he had entrusted the victims to God and asked for "comfort and assistance" for the victims' families, for the injured and for everyone who had lost their possessions.
Pope Benedict XVI also offered his Apostolic Blessing and invoked the divine graces on "all tested by this drama," as well as those participating in search and rescue and relief efforts on the island.
SIR news agency reported yesterday that Bishop Cavaco Carrilho of Funchal also expressed his "profound communion and solidarity to the population and victims" on Tuesday.