Ceremonies mark 10 years since Paris Concorde crash

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Hundreds of people attended sombre ceremonies on Sunday near the site of the Paris Concorde crash, marking the 10th anniversary of the disaster which killed 113 people.

As planes droned overhead on the flight path to nearby Charles de Gaulle airport, two separate ceremonies were held in the suburb of Gonesse where the supersonic Air France jet plunged to Earth.

The first ceremony drew around 70 people to a memorial close to the accident site, where local residents and officials along with a few Air France employees observed a minute's silence.

"That day, that minute, will remain seared into our memories because it was an event that was beyond our imagination," said local mayor Jean-Pierre Blazy.

The second ceremony later Sunday was attended by around 150 people including families of the crash victims -- most of whom were Germans on a package tour -- and Air France officials.

Each of them laid a rose on the memorial.

Blazy said at the first ceremony that he hoped a trial over the crash -- in which the verdict is due on December 6 -- would bring justice but expressed fears that it could be a whitewash in which "no one is held responsible."

US company Continental Airlines is the main defendant along with two of its employees and three French former aviation officials. A piece of metal that fell from a Continental plane has been blamed for causing the accident.

Jean-Cyril Spinetta, president of the Air France board of directors, said at the second service that the mayor's comments on the trial were "upsetting" and urged him to keep silent on the matter until the verdict.

Flight 4590 to New York smashed into a hotel in a ball of fire just after take-off from Charles de Gaulle, killing 100 passengers and nine crew on board and four people on the ground.

The crash sounded the death knell for commercial supersonic travel.

© 2010 AFP

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