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Pope Francis reaches out to L’Isle-Verte in wake of deadly fire

Firefighters and police officers work at the scene of a fire at a senior's residence home in L'Isle Verte, Que., on Jan. 24, 2014.

CHRISTINNE MUSCHI/The Globe and Mail

Pope Francis is offering his spiritual support to a Quebec community devastated by a fire at a seniors' home that has left 19 people confirmed dead.

Thirteen people are still missing following the early morning blaze at Residence du Havre in L'Isle-Verte on Jan. 23.

The Pope's sympathies follow those of the Queen, who offered her condolences in a message released the day after the fire.

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Vatican Secretary of State Archbishop Pietro Parolin wrote today that Pope Francis was immediately touched by the tragedy upon learning of it.

He says Pope Francis has imparted a special apostolic blessing to those affected by the tragedy.

Emergency crews have worked in sub-zero temperatures to recover bodies and evidence from the rubble of the seniors' home. Special machines to melt thick sheets of ice coating the structure have been used to help them gain access.

The residence had 52 units and many of its occupants had limited mobility, needing wheelchairs or walkers to get around.

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