Pope laments 'great loss of life' in Nigerian aircrash

Pope Benedict XVI regretted "the great loss of life" after a Nigerian airliner crashed, killing almost all passengers on board, many of them schoolchildren heading home for the Christmas holidays.

CLICK HERECatholic News Service reports that in a telegram, the pope expressed his "heartfelt condolences to the families of the victims" and wished "strength and peace upon all those who mourn and upon all engaged" in rescue and relief operations.

At least 107 of the 110 passengers and crew members died after a passenger jet crashed and burst into flames on Saturday as it was trying to land at the southern oil town of Port Harcourt during an electrical storm.

71 of the 110 people on board were students at Loyola Jesuit College boarding school near the Nigerian capital of Abuja; the students were between ages of 11 and 18.

Archbishop John Onaiyekan of Abuja and Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo were to visit the school Dec. 12 to offer their condolences, according to a report by Reuters, the British news agency.

The plane, traveling from Abuja, missed the runway while landing.

Eyewitnesses said they saw lightning strike as the Sosoliso Airlines DC-9 aircraft neared the runway. The plane then crashed and was engulfed by flames, they said.

The Dec. 10 air disaster was the second major deadly plane crash in Nigeria in the past seven weeks.

A Boeing 737 passenger jet crashed in October shortly after takeoff from Lagos, killing all 117 people on board.

Pope laments 'great loss of life' after Nigerian airliner crash (Catholic News Service 12/12/05)

To consecrated people: face modern life with courage (Vatican Information Service 10/12/05)
Pope congratulates nobel prize winner (Vatican Information Service 10/12/05)
Reflection, sobriety and joy characterize Christmas (Vatican Information Service 11/12/05)
Holy Father encourages construction of new churches (Vatican Information Service 11/12/05)
Telegram for air disaster in Nigeria (Vatican Information Service 12/12/05)
Pope says materialism pollutes Christmas spirit (Reuters 11/12/05)
Pope says he will think about cardinals' requests (AGI Online 12/12/05)
Editorial: A Child Is Born (America Magazine 19/12/05)
Pope says Christmas season being spoiled by 'commercial pollution' (Catholic News Service 12/12/05)
Pope announces mental health focus for Adelaide World Day of Sick (Catholic News Agency 12/12/05)
"Peace in the truth" theme of 2006 World Day of Peace (Catholic News Agency 12/12/05)
German bishops reveals details about Pope's planned visit to hometown (Catholic News Agency 12/12/05)
Church, world needs chaste, sober, obedient example of consecrated people, says Pope (Catholic News Agency 12/12/05)
Pope encourages family Nativity scenes, condemns Christmas commercialism (Catholic News Agency 12/12/05)
Pope congratulates Nobel Prize winner, praises efforts of nuclear disarmament (Catholic News Agency 12/12/05)
Pope encourages construction of new churches for Rome (Catholic News Agency 12/12/05)
Pope sends personal condolences for Nigerian airline accident (Catholic News Agency 12/12/05)
Pope blasts commercial "contamination" of Christmas (Catholic World News 12/12/05)
Rome's church-building campaign has Pope's support (Catholic World News 12/12/05)
Papal condolence after Nigerian air disaster (Catholic World News 12/12/05)
Pope congratulates El Baradei on Nobel Peace Prize (Catholic World News 12/12/05)
Pope's focus on mental health for World Day of the Sick (Catholic World News 12/12/05)
Christmas Tainted by Commercialism, Says Pope (Zenit 11/12/05)
Pope Urges Church Construction in Major Cities (Zenit 11/12/05)
Spread of Nuclear Arms Threatens Peace, Says Pontiff (Zenit 11/12/05)

Telegram for air disaster in Nigeria (Vatican Information Service 12/12/05)
Papal condolence after Nigerian air disaster (Catholic World News 12/12/05)
Nigeria: school loses 71 pupils in plane crash (Independent Catholic News 12/12/05)
Nigerian school mourns pupils killed in plane crash (Leading the Charge 12/12/05)

13 Dec 2005