By Devin Watkins
Pope Francis on Thursday sent his condolences for the victims of a deadly bus crash along a coastal road in Peru.
The Holy Father said he is “deeply saddened at the tragic news of the road traffic accident which occurred in Pasamayo”.
He also offered “prayers for the eternal repose of the souls of the deceased”.
His words of comfort came in the telegramme signed by Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin and sent through the Apostolic Nunciature in Peru.
A coach carrying 55 passengers, plus the driver and his assistant, plunged off a 100-meter high cliff on Tuesday along a stretch of road known as the “Curva del Diablo”, or Devil’s Bend.
The coach landed on a rocky, isolated stretch of beach north of Lima with no road access.
Peruvian police said preliminary investigations showed a lorry was also involved in the accident.
Peru’s Minister of Transport, Bruno Giuffa, tweeted that both vehicles had been travelling at excessive speeds, according to initial reports.
Police say one of the two vehicles had veered into the path of the other. The lorry’s driver survived the crash and has been detained.
As of Thursday, 51 people are known to have died in the accident.
In the telegramme, Pope Francis sent his “consolation to the relatives who mourn such a painful loss, as well as [his] spiritual closeness to the wounded”.
The Pope also asked our Lord “to pour upon them all the gifts of spiritual serenity and Christian hope” and imparted his “heartfelt” Apostolic Blessing.
Slippery and dangerous road
The Serpentín Pasamayo, where the crash occurred, runs along the Pacific Ocean and is considered one of the most dangerous in Peru.
It lacks barriers separating it from a sheer drop to the ocean, and sea spray and fog often make it particularly slick.
Peruvian President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski said on Wednesday he had given orders to widen an alternative route, so as to close the Serpentín Pasamayo.
Coaches in the meantime are to be barred from using the road.
Pope Francis is scheduled to make an Apostolic Journey to Peru on 18-22 January.
Please find below the official English translation of the telegramme:
THE HOLY FATHER, DEEPLY SADDENED AT THE TRAGIC NEWS OF THE ROAD TRAFFIC ACCIDENT WHICH OCCURRED IN PASAMAYO, CLAIMING MANY VICTIMS, OFFERS PRAYERS FOR THE ETERNAL REPOSE OF THE SOULS OF THE DECEASED.
I ASK YOUR EXCELLENCY TO CONVEY HIS HOLINESS’ CONDOLENCES, ALONG WITH EXPRESSIONS OF CONSOLATION TO THE RELATIVES WHO MOURN SUCH A PAINFUL LOSS, AS WELL AS THEIR SPIRITUAL CLOSENESS TO THE WOUNDED, WHILE ASKING THE LORD TO POUR UPON THEM ALL THE GIFTS OF SPIRITUAL SERENITY AND CHRISTIAN HOPE; AS A PLEDGE HE IMPARTS HIS HEARTFELT APOSTOLIC BLESSING.
CARDINAL PIETRO PAROLIN
SECRETARY OF STATE OF HIS HOLINESS