By Linda Bordoni
Pope Francis expressed his sorrow for the loss of life, injury and damage caused by flash floods in northern Iran that have killed at least 26 people.
In a telegramme, signed on his behalf by the Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Pope Francis on Wednesday conveyed his heartfelt solidarity with all those affected and said he is praying for the deceased.
The floods are being described as an “unprecedented natural disaster”. Rescuers are still searching for survivors and hundreds have reportedly been injured in the country that is more accustomed to drought than to rain.
In his message, the Pope also said he is praying for the emergency personnel involved in rescue efforts and assured the people of Iran that he has invoked divine blessings of consolation and strength on those who grieve.
Insufficient government response
Meanwhile, President Hassan Rouhani, who is accused by critics of mishandling the crisis, travelled to flooded areas to inspect the damage and promised compensation to all those affected.
Tuesday’s torrential rain struck 25 of Iran's 31 provinces, and the scale of the disaster has reportedly overwhelmed emergency services in some areas.
Tens of thousands of people have been displaced and thousands are being housed in emergency shelters.