Holy Father offers condolences for devastating plane crash in Iran


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Vatican City, Jul 16, 2009 / 10:32 am (CNA).- Pope Benedict mourned the lives lost in yesterday's Iranian plane crash in a telegram addressed the country's apostolic nuncio, Archbishop Jean-Paul Gobel. The Holy Father offered his condolences and said that he will pray for the families and for the repose of the souls of the 168 who died in the tragedy.

The doomed Caspian Air flight took off Wednesday morning en route to Armenia. The plane caught fire in mid-air, went into a nose-dive and crashed into farmland outside a village in northwest Iran.

The force of the crash was so great that rescue workers have been unable to identify any particular individual's remains thus far.

Ahmad Majidi, head of the Transport Ministry's Crisis Unit told Mehr news agency that, "The pilot could probably not be blamed for this crash and we think it was likely due to a technical problem."

Upon hearing news of the devastating crash, the Vatican's Cardinal Secretary of State sent the telegram in the Pope's name.

"Saddened by news of the great loss of life in the air tragedy over Jannatabad near Qazvin, the Holy Father offers heartfelt condolences to the civil authorities and the families of the victims. He prays for the eternal repose of the dead and implores the almighty and merciful God's gifts of comfort and strength on those who mourn the loss of their loved ones," the telegram says.