The world reacted today with a shocked "I knew it would have to happen sometime" to the Apollo 13 crisis. Some people were angry because men's lives had been risked in space. But all were concerned and followed the Apollo flight intently.
Pope Paul VI prayed in the Vatican for the safety of the three men aboard. Nations offered technical assistance. France offered the use of its Navy for rescue purposes. Australia put its largest radio telescope at America's disposal.
The Soviet Union and the Communist nations of East Europe followed the drama closely but without comment.
Throughout the anxious statements by the man in the street in the cities of the world ran a thread of superstition - that this was Apollo mission No.13. And even this was offset by belief the Apollo 13 astronauts would triumph because of their skills and because of U.S. space technology.
One such expression came from West German scientist Heinz Kaminski, director of the Bochum Space Research Center, who said he believed "the high standards of the space craft's electronic engineering and the many alternatives existing in the case of emergencies will lead to a safe return to earth."
Word of the Apollo developments was flashed on radio and television throughout Europe, and a group of American tourists in Spain joined Spaniards clustered around transistor radio sets in the street to hear accounts of the space drama.
"It had to happen sometime," said Domenico Brizzi in Rome. "I don't like it (the space program). They spend too many dollars that could be used on earth. But I hope they come back safely."
Belgian Prof. Andre Monfils, an astro-physicist, said in Liege that "time is now the one great enemy of Apollo 13 because their maneuvering margins are very narrow." He said this should remind the world the Apollo program is "still a very complex and delicate operation."
In Belgrade, Kosta Vukotic, a 39-year-old lawyer, said, "The news shocked me. I am really angry. Is it necessary to send people up there to the moon and risk themselves?"