Pope Francis prays for victims of heavy rains in Brazil

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ROME: In a telegram to the Bishop of Petrópolis in Brazil, where scores of people are confirmed dead from floods and mudslides, Pope Francis conveys his condolences and prays for the repose of the deceased, as the Bishop and Caritas launch appeals for solidarity. Writing on the Pope’s behalf, Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin says the Holy Father is “asking God, father of mercy, for eternal repose for the deceased, comfort for the victims for whom he wishes a speedy recovery and the serenity and consolation of Christian hope for all those affected by this painful ordeal”, and sends his apostolic blessing to those who are suffering. Bishop Gregório Paixão Neto asked that priests and parishioners take in people whose houses have been destroyed or damaged.

Rio de Janeiro state government has confirmed 117 deaths from the floods and mudslides that swept away homes and cars in the city of Petrópolis. Survivors continue to dig and the number of people still trapped in the mud is unclear. Police estimate there are at least 116 people still missing. Petrópolis was engulfed in floods and mudslides triggered by a storm described as “the most intense in decades”. The mountain city is a refuge for local people escaping the summer heat and for tourists. Rio police say about 200 agents are visiting checkpoints and shelters to identify the living.

Meanwhile, the Archdiocese of Rio de Janeiro, through Caritas, has launched an “SOS Petrópolis” campaign, asking for donations for families affected by the rains, and the Diocese of Petrópolis and city parishes have opened their doors to assist victims.

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