BUENOS AIRES —  A local explosion has rocked the city of Rosario, leaving 12 people dead, 60 wounded and many more missing. Archbishop Jose Luis Mollaghan of Rosario, Argentina, has called for hope and solidarity with the suffering and related how the Church was immediately on the scene of the disaster.

Around 9:35am local time on Aug. 6, a natural gas explosion erupted in an apartment building in Rosario, destroyed entire facades and filled the surrounding streets with smoke. Emergency officials estimated the blast was felt up to 40 blocks away.

“This is a very tough moment that has left many wounded and dead. The city has been surprised by this real tragedy,” Archbishop Mollaghan told EWTN News.

The archbishop said that the first priest on the scene “had direct contact with those who were rescued.”

“It was all very dramatic, because of the flames that continued to shoot out of the buildings,” he said. “At those moments, the priest was a source of comfort and strength for many people.”

Numerous priests and religious ministers soon arrived on site to provide spiritual support.

In these moments “of such affliction, what we are doing is reaching out to so many people,” Archbishop Mollaghan said.

He thanked local and federal agencies for providing assistance, as well as “doctors, paramedics, psychologists and others who do so much to help mitigate suffering.”

Shelters are being set up for those who need a place to stay or are in need of other supplies, he added.

“What's left for us is to look to the Gospel and trust that the Lord will not abandon us or cease to comfort so many of our brothers and sisters. This is a time of solidarity, to draw close to them and offer our support and care.”

He encouraged the faithful to turn “especially to the Mother of God, who was at the foot of the cross, and to pray to her as well that she accompany the inhabitants of Rosario in this affliction.”