WREXHAM’S Polish community has been left devastated by the death of the country’s president in a plane crash.
More than 300 people attended special masses said for all the victims of the crash at the town’s Roman Catholic cathedral on Saturday and Sunday and a large number have signed a book of condolence started in their memory.
President Lech Kaczynski and his wife were among nearly 100 senior Polish government and military figures who died as they travelled to western Russia.
There were no survivors when the plane crashed after apparently hitting trees as it approached Smolensk airport in thick fog.
Father Mariusz Obalka, who is one the priests at the cathedral and has been in the country for the past three years, said: “This is a very sad time for the Polish people, wherever they are.
“I heard the tragic news of the crash on Saturday morning when some Polish people came to see me. At first I could not believe it.
“The information was at that stage very incomplete so I went online to find out more.
“I was shocked by the extent of what had happened.
“There is huge grief about this, especially among the first generation Polish immigrants to this country.
“Here at the cathedral we said two masses for the victims of the crash, on Saturday evening and on Sunday morning, when about 300 people attended.
“In a sanctuary within the church we had the Polish flag draped in black.
“We have also opened a book of condolence for the victims, which has already been signed by a large number of people, including the Bishop of Wrexham, Edwin Regan.”
Fr Mariusz added: “This tragedy has left an emptiness in my mind and in my heart.
“His death will leave a big void to fill in our country.”
In an official Wrexham Council, statement, deputy leader Cllr Bob Dutton offered the county’s sympathies to twin town Raziborg in Poland.
He said: “We have extended our deepest sympathies and regret to our colleagues and friends in Raziborg.
“We spoke with them on Monday morning and they are all deeply distressed following the death of President Lech Kaczynski and and they have spoken of how deeply affected the whole country is at this moment in time.”
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