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Pope prays for victims of Volcano of Fire

VATICAN (Agencies): “People here in Escuintla have lost everything, family members, homes, crops, their animals,” Luis Rolando Sanchez, Catholic Relief Services’ emergency coordinator for Latin America, said, afer the horrific eruption of Volcan de Fuego (Volcano of Fire) in Guatemala on June 3 left more than 60 people dead.
Pope Francis sent his condolences in a June 5 telegramme addressed to Archbishop Nicolas Thevenin, apostolic nuncio of Guatemala, CNS reported.
Pietro Cardinal Parolin, Vatican secretary of state, said the pope was “profoundly grieved upon learning the sad news of the violent eruption …”
Pope Francis offered “prayers for the eternal rest of the deceased and for all who suffer the consequences of that natural disaster.”
The eruption buried entire towns in a thick blanket of ash and debris, causing hundreds to flee the toxic fumes. Although the death toll stood at 69 on June 5, authorities believe many more may still be buried under the volcanic rubble.
According to the Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, Guatemala’s National Institute of Forensic Studies said only 17 victims had been identified as of June 5. Scientists will have to rely on DNA to identify casualties disfigured by burning embers and hot lava.
Firefighters and volunteers were forced to use wooden planks to walk around after the soles of their shoes melted due to the intense heat, CNN reported on June 5.
Cardinal Parolin said Pope Francis hoped that families mourning the loss of their loved ones may be consoled and expressed “his spiritual closeness to the wounded and those who work tirelessly in helping the victims.”
Over 3,000 people have been forced to flee their homes in the region south-west of the capital, Guatemala City, where Caritas Guatemala has set up three camps for the displaced and organised a collection for June 10, when medicine, clothes and food will be accepted and distributed, Vatican News reported.
CNS reported Sanchez a saying that residents from the affected communities had “lined up all day” at shelters and collections centers for food and basic needs on June 4. 
“Many of them were missing family members,” he said.
“More help will be needed in coming days, especially once we know the extent of the impact,” Sanchez continued. 
At one of the shelters, the number of people had doubled by Monday night (June 4) and the number of deaths is increasing. Affected communities face the drama of losing family.
“One million seven hundred thousand people are affected, and that number could rise,” Vatican News reported Mario Arevalo, executive secretary of Caritas Guatemala, as saiying. 
“There is serious damage to infrastructure, especially roads and bridges, so communications are very difficult,” he said.

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