Bishop Aloysius Paul D’Souza of Mangalore has swung into action to help the families of victims of the air crash in the city that killed 158 people, as parishes across India prayed for the dead, several of them Catholics.
An Air India Express flight from Dubai to Mangalore, carrying mostly migrant workers, crashed on landing on the morning of May 22. The aircraft, with 166 people on board, overshot the runway and crashed into a valley, bursting into flames. Eight people survived.
Bishop Aloysius Paul D’Souza of Mangalore said some 17-18 Catholics from his diocese lost their lives. “I am trying to visit the grieving family members,” he said adding that he had already attended two funerals.
The bishop said his diocese is ready to help the families of those who have perished in whatever way possible. “But first we are trying to ascertain through the parish priests the actual need and then we will respond accordingly,” he said.
Mangalore diocese will organize a special Mass for the “deceased very soon,” said the bishop of the coastal region, from where thousands have gone to European and Persian Gulf nations to work.
The Catholic Bishops Conference of India said the “the horrifying tragedy” was “most shocking and disturbing” for the Church in India and for the country.
“Our heartfelt condolences go to the families and relatives of the victims. We earnestly pray for the departed souls of the innocent people who lost their lives in the plane crash,” the bishops’ conference said in a press release on May 23.
The bishops are “deeply pained” by the accident and share the anguish of all those who have suffered,” it said in the release signed by conference spokesperson Father Babu Joseph.
He said parishes across India have offered special prayers for the victims and their families.