Pope Francis donates to Argentina flood victims

Pope Francis has donated $50,000 to help victims of the deadly floods that struck his native Argentina this week, the Vatican's diplomatic mission said Friday.

At least 59 people died in the record rains and flooding that deluged Buenos Aires and the nearby city of La Plata. Of those killed, 51 died in La Plata, a bustling university town of about one million inhabitants.

Francis gave the Archdiocese of La Plata the funds "so it can be destined for emergency aid to flood victims," the Argentine Catholic Information Agency (AICA) reported.

Vatican envoy Emil Paul Tscherrig said Francis "wants to express in this concrete manner his spiritual closeness with all those who suffer and those who are generously offering their help and support."

Francis earlier said he was "deeply saddened" by the unprecedented heavy rain and flooding between Monday and Wednesday.

One of the most heavily flooded parts of La Plata was the downtown area around the cathedral, where part of an avenue was named after the new pope.