Saturday, August 23, 2008

National mourning in Spain

Queen Sofia cut short her stay at the Beijing Olympics, after a Spanair plane crashed near the Madrid airport Barajas on Wednesday. She arrived Thursday morning in Madrid; her husband King Juan Carlos had returned from his holiday home Marivent on the island of Mallorca.

The king and queen later visited the impromptu morgue where relatives waited to claim the remains of their loved ones. Many of the 153 bodies are burned beyond recognizition and the identification process could take days, a Spanish Minister said Thursday.

The morgue has been set up at Madrid's main convention center - the same facility used for relatives to identify bodies after the March 11, 2004, terror attacks that killed 191 people on Madrid commuter trains.

As the shock of the tragedy began to sink in, Spain began three days of mourning Thursday. Flags in Madrid flew at half-staff and silent vigils were held at noon around the country.

„All Spaniards feel this disaster. Spain is really mourning and it is very difficult for all.“ Prince Felipe summed up the shock caused by the plane crash at Madrid's Barajas airport after visiting the wounded and their families in hospitals around the Spanish capital.

The Prince of Asturias toured hospitals, conveyed the wounded his support. „We wanted today to be with the relatives and the injured. We wanted to be in the hospitals where they are suffering and fighting for their lives“, he said.

Princess Letizia, who went with him, said that they had been particularly impressed by the courage of a mother who has lost a son in the accident, while the other was wounded and now struggled for recovery with an „incredible force“.

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