Vatican City, Jan 16, 2017 / 10:14 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis Monday sent a telegram to survivors of a cargo plane crash in the Central Asian country of Kyrgyzstan, expressing his sorrow for all those who died and sending his prayers for the rescue efforts.
“Deeply saddened to learn of the tragic crash of a cargo plane near Bishkek, Pope Francis sends his condolences to all those who have lost loved ones, particularly in Manas, and commends the souls of the deceased to the mercy of almighty God,” the Jan. 16 telegram stated. “In praying for the search and rescue efforts, his holiness invokes upon the nation the divine blessings of strength and consolation,” it continued, sent by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin on behalf of Pope Francis.
At least 37 people were killed Monday after a Turkish cargo plane crashed into the village of Dacha-Suu, 16 miles northwest of the Kyrgyz capital Bishkek, while trying to land at the airport which serves Bishkek. The plane, traveling from Hong Kong to Istanbul, was scheduled for a stopover at the Manas airport, according to airport officials in Bishkek, the AP reports.
The plane crashed at 7:40am local time, destroying half of the village, including 15 homes and dozens of buildings, some of which burst into flames after being hit by debris from the plane. The four members of the flight’s crew were among those who died. Another 15 people, including six children, were hospitalized, according to the health ministry. The reason for the crash is still unknown.
Though there was fog at the airport the morning of Jan. 16, the weather conditions were not considered critical, the AP reports. The Kyrgyz deputy prime minister said that “according to preliminary information, the plane crashed due to a pilot error,” the BBC reports. Kyrgyzstan has declared Tuesday a day of national mourning.