RELIGION

Pope offers prayers to victims of Colombia mud avalanche

Pope Francis says he is "deeply pained" by "the gigantic avalanche of mud" in Colombia that has caused scores of deaths and injuries.

The pope called attention to the tragedy during his Angelus blessing Sunday on a visit to the northern Italian region of Emilia Romagna, which was struck by a pair of quakes that killed 28 people five years ago. The region has largely been rebuilt.

Francis said he was praying for the victims in Colombia and offered thanks to those helping with the rescue efforts.

The death toll from one of the worst disasters in Colombia's recent history neared 200 early Sunday after heavy rains caused three rivers to surge through the city of Mocoa, near the border with Ecuador.