06/03/2009, 00.00
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Pope sends telegram for victims of Atlantic air disaster

Benedict XVI expresses “spiritual closeness” and “profound condolences” for all those who have been “sorely tried” by the tragedy. Today an ecumenical prayer service in the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris. French President Nicolas Sarkozy will attend. Among the 228 passengers, citizens from 32 nations, including Chinese, Lebanese and a Filipino.

Rome (AsiaNews/Agencies) – The Pope has invoked “divine mercy” for the victims of the French Airbus disaster.  The plane disappeared in June 1st with 228 people on board.  In a telegram signed by the Vatican Secretary of State, card. Tarcisio Bertone, Benedict XVI assures his “spiritual closeness” “and “profound participation” to all those who have been “sorely tried” by this tragedy.

The cause of the accident is still unknown; meanwhile search operations are under way for the black box and wreckage of flight AF447 Rio-Paris in the southern Atlantic, 650 km from the Island of  Fernando de Noronha, 1000 km from the Brazilian coast.  There is no hope of finding survivors: most of the 228 victims were Brazilian and French, however there were also passengers from 32 nations an board the plane including 8 Chinese, 5 Lebanese and 1 Filipino.

At 4 pm today an ecumenical prayer service will be held in the Parisian cathedral of Notre Dame, in suffrage of the victims.  French President Nicolas Sarkozy will attend the service along with relatives of the victims and employees of the French National Airline. Also today at 2 pm, the Grand Mosque in Paris will host prayers organised by the French Council for Muslim worship.

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