During his Angelus blessing, the Holy Father also called for peace in the Democratic Republic of Congo

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 earthquakes 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 Associated Press reports.

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.

The Pope discussed the conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo that has seen clashes in the Kasai region leave many people dead or displaced.

According to Vatican Radio, the Pope appealed for prayers for peace and asked Catholics to pray that “the hearts of those who are behind such crimes be freed from the slavery of hatred and violence, because hatred and violence are always destructive”.

Francis also said he was praying for Venezuela and Paraguay, two countries beset by socio-political problems.

“I pray for those populations who are very dear to me, he said, and invite all to tirelessly persevere in their search for political solutions, avoiding every kind of violence,” he said.