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Just hours after Pope Francis pondered that he may only have "two or three years" left to live, he received news that two of his great-nephews and their mother were killed in a car crash in Argentina.
The pontiff's relatives had been travelling on the Cordoba-Rosaria highway in central Argentina when their car collided with a grain truck. One of the pope's nephews, Emanuel Bergoglio, had been driving the car and was seriously injured in the collision, which took place at just after midnight on Monday.
Mr Bergoglio's wife Valeria Carmona, and two children, eight-month-old Antonio and two-year-old Jose died in the crash. "The pope has been informed and is deeply grieved by the tragic news. He asks all those who share his pain to join with him in prayer," read a statement on the Radio Vaticana website, reports the Guardian.
Raul Pombo, who had been driving the lorry, told a local television channel that he had felt an impact and left his cab to find the family's car underneath the rear of his truck. Pombo was not injured and said: "I began stopping passing cars to ask for their fire extinguishers because the car was on fire."
Television footage showed the mangled remains of a small car. The accident happened as the Bergoglios were believed to be returning to the Argentine capital after a holiday weekend. Mr Bergoglio's wife and children died before reaching hospital, while he remains in a critical condition, reports suggest.
News of this fatal crash comes shortly after Pope Francis returned to the Vatican from a five-day trip to South Korea. On this trip the pope mused that he may have just a few years left to live.
On the flight back the pontiff is reported to have said: "I see it as the generosity of the people of God. I try to think of my sins, my mistakes, not to become proud. Because I know it will last only a short time. Two or three years and then I'll be off to the Father's House."