Pope Francis voiced his spiritual closeness to all those affected by the fire in Valparaíso, Chile, that so far has left 12 dead and has destroyed some 2,000 homes. A telegram sent by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin to Bishop Gonzalo Duarte García de Cortázar of Valparaíso explained that the Pope is “offering prayers for the deceased in this grave disaster, and at the same time share the anguish of those who lost their homes and property.” Through the telegram, the Holy Father also supported “with his prayers the efforts of the rescue team” and prayed “for the authorities and all of the city that their mind does not falter in the face of adversity, so that with the spirit of solidarity and fraternal charity bring to all the affected the needed help.” In addition, he transmitted to the families of the deceased his deepest condolences and expressed his “paternal solicitude to the wounded and injured.” Pope Francis concluded his letter by imparting a special apostolic blessing, “as a sign of affection to all Chileans.” Beginning in a forested area just above hillside housing outside of the city, the blaze has already killed 12 people, and has left 10,000 evacuated due to the fact that the fire has destroyed some 2,000 homes. Chilean president Michelle Bachelet said Sunday that the fire is the worst in the history of the country. United Nations expert Rodrigo Reveco told the press that “it’s impossible to put out the fire in less than 20 days, because the same internal combustion of the trees makes it very slow” to suffocate the fire. Until now, the government has had to mobilize 11 helicopters, six planes and 2,000 military personnel and police to put out the fire and assist the general public.
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