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EgyptAir Crash Victims Remembered

October 31, 2000 GMT

NEWPORT, R.I. (AP) _ Relatives of the 217 victims of the crash of EgyptAir Flight 990 gathered Tuesday, the first anniversary of the disaster, to dedicate a memorial whose rough-hewn sides symbolize their pain.

The granite memorial stands in a seaside park in the city where families went a year ago after the Boeing 767 plunged into the Atlantic off the Massachusetts island of Nantucket.

More than 500 relatives, friends and dignitaries attended the memorial service, which began about an hour late as buses brought people to Brenton Point State Park.


Some mourners held flowers and some cried as a chill wind whipped the tent shielding them.

National Transportation Safety Board Chairman James Hall arrived early and spoke with family members before speaking at the ceremony. Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Almond ordered all state flags flown at half-staff for the day.

In Egypt, independent religious ceremonies also were held Tuesday to mourn those killed when the plane went crashed about an hour after taking off from New York en route to Cairo.

There has been no final determination of the crash’s cause, but there has been speculation that co-pilot Gameel El-Batouty deliberately crashed the plane. Egyptians have vehemently rejected that possibility, instead favoring theories that a missile or mechanical failure were to blame.

The granite monument is roughly hewn on three of its four sides, symbolizing the families’ difficult journey since the crash.

An inscription in gold lettering on a black background reads: ``In loving memory of the 217 family members and friends lost on EgyptAir Flight 990. ... May God’s eternal light shine upon them.″

The final phrase, ``They are not gone from us,″ is inscribed in French, Arabic and English.

On the ground before the monument are 217 bricks etched with the names of those who died.

``There’s nothing beautiful about it,″ said Jack Afonso of Riverside Stone Co., who created the monument. ``This is to commemorate the dead.″ Beyond the monument is a panoramic view of the ocean, the sound of the waves lapping against the rocks a few hundred feet away.

Five coffins of the unidentified remains recovered from the crash site have already been buried in the Island Cemetery. A sixth was to be buried Tuesday in a private service for the families.

On Wednesday, the NTSB will allow families to tour the aircraft wreckage, stored in a hangar at a former Navy base.


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