UPDATE: Pope, cardinal offer condolences to victims of Bronx fire that killed 17

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Pope Francis issued condolences to families of those killed in an Jan. 9 apartment building blaze in the Bronx that killed 17 people, including eight children.

Initially, city officials said the death toll was 19 people and nine children, but they revised this figure the afternoon of Jan. 10.

In a Jan. 10 telegram to Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York, the archdiocese where the apartment building is located, Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin said: "His Holiness Pope Francis was saddened to learn of the recent devastating fire in the Bronx in which a number of children lost their lives."

"In offering heartfelt condolences and the assurance of his spiritual closeness to those affected by this tragedy, he entrusts the victims and their families to the merciful love of almighty God and invokes upon all consolation and strength in the Lord," the telegram said.

The five-alarm fire injured more than 60 others, with dozens going to hospitals in critical condition. More than 200 firefighters responded to the blaze in the 19-story building.

Cardinal Dolan visited the site Jan. 10 and tweeted: "It doesn't get worse than what we witnessed in New York yesterday at that tragic fire in the Bronx. I'm visiting the scene with the fire companies that responded so that I might see how the church can assist. Thank God for the @FDNY."