Tears and frustration at Red Sea crash tribute

3rd January 2005, Comments 0 comments

SHARM EL-SHEIKH, Egypt, Jan 3 (AFP) - Bereaved families commemorated the first anniversary Monday of the crash of a Flash Airlines jet into the Red Sea, which killed all 148 people on board, but one year on the cause of the tragedy remains unknown.

SHARM EL-SHEIKH, Egypt, Jan 3 (AFP) - Bereaved families commemorated the first anniversary Monday of the crash of a Flash Airlines jet into the Red Sea, which killed all 148 people on board, but one year on the cause of the tragedy remains unknown.  

Some 40 relatives, both Egyptian and French, made the journey to this resort to remember lost loved ones. A full 134 of the dead were French tourists returning from holiday.  

The mournful tones of harps and violins drifted out across the waters of the Red Sea as the bereaved gathered at a makeshift memorial looking out at the crash scene.  

A Muslim imam joined Paris airports chaplain Father Tournemine in leading the service, while a priest of Egypt's Coptic Church joined the congregation.  

Annie Chemin, who lost five cousins in the crash, tearfully shared her last memories with fellow mourners.  

Ambassador Jean-Claude Cousseran and South Sinai governor General Mostafa Afifi laid wreaths on behalf of the French and Egyptian governments before the relatives each took their turn.  

Junior foreign minister Renaud Muselier was forced to cancel his attendance after the devastating tsunamis which swept Asia.  

A permanent monument had been due to be inaugurated, but was not finished in time so families had to make do with seeing a model.  

Relatives then took a boat trip out to the crash scene to lay garlands of white roses on the waters.  

A sobbing grandmother clutched a teddy bear to her chest before tossing it into the waves.  

While it was swiftly decided that a bombing was not to blame for the crash, the plane's black boxes have failed to provide an explanation for why the disaster happened.  

An initial report published by Egyptian authorities in November detailed the flight's final fateful moments but it remains unclear whether machine or human error was to blame.  

Bereaved Egyptian families are still trying to get compensation for the crash, while the Al-Sharq insurance company has already paid the French victims' families USD 350,000.  

An involuntary manslaughter investigation has been opened in France, while lawyers for the French families are considering legal action in both France and the United States against the plane's manufacturer Boeing, leaser ILFC and fitter Honeywell.  

The French ambassador said he could understand the anguish of relatives desperately trying to fathom why their loved ones had been taken away.  

"I have witnessed the families' suffering and understand their impatience," said Cousseran.  

"But the experts' job is slow, technical work which has constraints that we must understand."

© AFP

Subject: French News

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