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Pope Francis sends families “heartfelt condolences” after London fire

AFP PHOTO / Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS
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The pope “entrusts the souls of those who have died to the Lord’s loving mercy.”

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis has expressed his “sadness” over the “tragic loss of life and injury” following the devastating fire that ravaged London’s Grenfall Tower and has left 30 people dead.

In a telegram sent on the pope’s behalf to Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster, Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin said the Holy Father “entrusts the souls of those who have died to the Lord’s loving mercy and offers his heartfelt condolences to their families.”

“With appreciation for the brave efforts of the emergency service personnel and all committed to supporting those who have lost their homes, His Holiness invokes upon the local community God’s blessings of strength and peace,” he said.

Queen Elizabeth appeared visibly moved on Friday as she and Prince William visited residents, volunteers and emergency service personnel at a makeshift relief center for Grenfell Tower fire victims. One day later, in her official birthday message, the queen acknowledged “the very somber national mood” amid what traditionally is a time of celebration.

Anger over the the causes of the fire and the government response to it has led to protests in Kensington and central London, as criticism has been leveled against British Prime Minister Teresa May for failing to meet those caught up in the fire in the immediate wake of the tragedy.

Prime Minister May arrived in Downing Street on Saturday where she is chairing the Government task force on the disaster. She will meet victims, volunteers and community leaders afterwards.

A Downing Street spokesman said: “The Prime Minister is this morning chairing a cross-Government meeting to ensure everything possible is being done to support those affected by the Grenfell tragedy. Afterwards, she will meet a group of residents, victims, volunteers and community leaders.”

The British government has announced the creation of a $6.4 million discretionary fund to feed, clothe and house those left homeless by the fire. However it continues to face accusations that building materials used in tower construction led to the blaze, and that safety warnings over the years were ignored.

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