BALASORE, India (OSV News) – Pope Francis, during his Sunday Angelus on June 4, remembered the victims of a train disaster in the Indian district of Balasore which saw 275 people killed and at least 1000 injured.
“May our heavenly Father receive the souls of the deceased into his kingdom,” he said, echoing a papal telegram sent to the apostolic nuncio of India. The Pope also assured the injured he is close to them and their families.
In a June 3 telegram, Pope Francis said he was “deeply saddened to learn of the immense loss of life caused by the train crash”, and assured “all affected by this tragedy of his spiritual closeness”. The telegram was sent to Archbishop Leopoldo Girelli, the apostolic nuncio to India, on the Pontiff’s behalf by Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican secretary of state.
The Pope entrusted the souls of the deceased “to the loving mercy of the Almighty”, and sent his “heartfelt condolences to those who mourn their loss”. He offered prayers “for the many injured and for the efforts of the emergency service personnel”, invoking upon everyone “the divine gifts of courage and consolation”.
The Catholic bishops’ conference of India in a statement offered “prayers and sympathies on the sad demise of so many people”, and wished for quick recovery of the injured.
The bishops also called on the Indian government “to find out the cause of such a huge mishap and to take steps to see that in future such massive tragedies are avoided”.
Investigators said the crash involving three trains may have been caused by signalling failure.
In Balasore Diocese in Odisha state, the Catholic Church has been carrying out voluntary work at the accident site, with priests, religious sisters and lay Church volunteers helping the wounded, rescue personnel and medical teams.
Photo: A drone view shows derailed coaches after three passenger trains collided in Balasore district in the eastern state of Odisha, India, June 3, 2023 (OSV News photo/Reuters)