Editor's Viewpoint: Polish air tragedy strikes a chord
The tragic death of 96 people including the President of Poland and his wife, as well as the loss of a significant number of the country's military, financial and civilian leaders, has shocked the world, and also brought universal messages of sympathy.
The scale of such a loss following a plane crash on Saturday is difficult to comprehend, and the Queen expressed the condolences of the entire United Kingdom when she talked movingly of her "deepest sympathy" for the Polish Government and its people.
Many questions are being asked about the cause of the crash, and about the airworthiness of the aircraft involved, as well as the claim that the crew were advised not to attempt a landing at that time.
The widespread investigations which are being undertaken will undoubtedly provide some answers in due course, but the focus right now is on the human scale of the tragedy. Church services and other memorial gatherings have been held in Poland where people are in deep mourning, and in many other places outside the country where there is a Polish community.
This includes Belfast, and already a vigil has been held outside the City Hall. Yesterday there was also a service in St Anthony's Church where Fr Adrzej Kolaczkowski, who ministers to the local Polish community, spoke about the magnitude of the loss.
The people of Northern Ireland on all sides have known much suffering over recent decades, and they will sympathise with the Polish people about their great loss. The local Polish community has enriched life in this Province, and they can be assured of the thoughts and prayers of all our people at this time.