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Pope offers prayers for victims of Mexico City hospital explosion

Emergency workers at the site of an explosion at a maternity and children's hospital in Mexico City (CNS)

Pope Francis offered prayers and an expression of solidarity with the victims of a hospital explosion that left three dead and more than 70 staff and patients — mostly women and children — injured.

“Pope Francis is deeply sorry upon learning the painful news of the explosion that occurred near the Cuajimalpa women’s and children’s hospital, which has caused numerous victims and injured, among them, many children,” read a message sent on Friday, the day after the explosion. The message to Mexico City Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera was sent from Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state.

Cardinal Parolin said Pope Francis “offers prayers for the eternal rest of the dead and, at the same time, the Holy Father wants … to offer his condolences to the families of the deceased, along with expressions of comfort… and wishes for the quick recovery of the injured.”

Shortly after the accident on Thursday, the Pope Francis @pontifex account also tweeted that the Pope was praying for the victims and their families.

Fr Hugo Valdemar Romero, Mexico City archdiocesan spokesman, told Catholic News Service that Cardinal Rivera prayed for the victims of the explosion and visited them in Mexico City hospitals.

The explosion ripped apart the hospital in western Mexico City shortly after 7am, when a tanker truck was delivering propane. Mexico City Mayor Miguel Manuel Angel Mancera said the blast in the borough of Caujimalpa killed two individuals — fewer than the seven victims originally thought — and police posted photos of a baby being pulled from the rubble.

The cause of the explosion remained uncertain, but Mexico City authorities said a valve on the truck apparently was left open. Three employees — two of whom were burned badly — have been detained.

The tragedy once again turned attention to tragic accidents in Mexico, where observers say the population and public officials seldom practice prevention.

“‘It’s only an accident.’ We hear the phrase over and over again in our country,” wrote columnist Sergio Sarmiento in the newspaper Reforma. “However, accidents generate more deaths than aggressions, kidney disease, malnutrition and infectious diseases.”

Accidents involving propane trucks have caught the attention of Church officials.

An editorial in the archdiocesan publication Desde la Fe condemned “incompetent public functionaries responsible in these areas,” after a 2013 accident involving a tanker truck killed 25 residents in a working-class neighbourhood north of Mexico City.

Fr Valdemar said the authorities are often quick to act after the fact, instead of taking precautions.

“The ones that pay are always the poor drivers” and not the company, he said. “Behind this there is always corruption.”