Pope prays for victims of gas explosion in Sicily
By Linda Bordoni
Pope Francis expressed his grief and assured his closeness to citizens of Ravanusa, a Sicilian town where several buildings collapsed last Saturday due to a blast caused by a suspected gas leak.
In a telegram, sent on his behalf by Vatican Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, the Pope asked Archbishop Alessandro Damiano of the Archdiocese of Agrigento to which Ravenusa belongs, to be the spokesman of his “heartfelt closeness” to the population.
The death toll from the blast has risen to seven and search and rescue operations are ongoing with two people still missing. The explosion demolished four houses and damaged another three. Over 100 people have been left homeless.
In his message, the Pope said he conveys his condolences to the relatives of the deceased and expresses feelings of intense participation in the grief of the entire population. He says he “bears in his heart the suffering of so many people and assures his prayers in suffrage for the victims."
Furthermore, he expresses appreciation and gratitude for those who have participated in the search and rescue operations as well as for the extraordinary collection launched by the Archdiocese in support of the community.
Investigators have hypothesized an accumulation of a large quantity of gas beneath the ground notwithstanding a 2014 report pointing to serious risk situations in the area.