Pope Francis has expressed his pain as Muslims around the world bemoan the death of hundreds of pilgrims killed in a stampede outside the Islamic holy city of Mecca.
The incident is the worst disaster to hit the annual hajj pilgrimage in 25 years.
Speaking during a packed evening prayer service at New York’s St. Patrick’s Cathedral, the Argentine pope said he wanted to expressed his “sentiments of closeness in the face of the tragedy that their people suffered today in Mecca.”
“In this moment of prayer, I unite myself with you all in prayer to God, our father, all powerful and merciful,” the spiritual leader of 1.2 billion Catholics added.
As at the last count, no fewer than 717 pilgrims lost their lives with 805 injured.