Here is a translation of the telegram of condolence for the victims of the storm and the floods that have affected North Rhine-Westphalia and Rhineland-Palatinate in West Germany, sent in the Holy Father Francis’ name by the Cardinal Secretary of State, Pietro Parolin, to H.E. Mr. Franz-Walter Steinmeier, President of the Federal Republic of Germany.
At least 120 people have died and hundreds more in western Europe are unaccounted for after some of the worst flooding in decades, according to the BBC. In Germany, the states of Rhineland-Palatinate and North Rhine-Westphalia were the worst-hit. Record rainfall caused rivers to burst their banks, devastating the region.
Belgian media is reporting 22 deaths there. The Netherlands, Luxembourg, and Switzerland are also affected.
In the western German district of Ahrweiler, up to 1,300 people are unaccounted for, the authorities say. A spokeswoman for the local government said mobile networks had been put out of action, making it impossible to contact many people.
The village of Schuld (population 700) was almost entirely destroyed, the BBC said. In the town of Erfstadt-Blessem, near Cologne, floodwaters caused a row of houses to collapse. Local authorities said they were receiving emergency calls from people trapped by floodwater but rescue was in many cases not possible.
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To His Excellency Mr. Franz-Walter Steinmeier,
President of the Federal Republic of Germany,
Deeply affected, the Holy Father learned the news of the severe storm and floods in North Rhine-Westphalia and Rhineland-Palatinate. His Holiness remembers in prayer the persons that have lost their lives and expresses to their family members his deepest sympathy. He prays particularly for the still missing persons, for the wounded, and for all those that have suffered damages or lost their properties by the force of nature. Assuring them, as well as the emergency response forces and the rescuers of his spiritual closeness, Pope Francis implores upon all God’s help and protection.