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Chirac, Chavez join Martinique's air crash mourners

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Chirac, Chavez join Martinique's air crash mourners


Politicians have taken part in a public ceremony of mourning in Martinique, for the 160 people who died in a plane crash in Venezuela. French President Jacques Chirac came to pay his respects at the service in Dillon Stadium in Fort-de-France, and met the victims’ families. Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez also attended.The crowd numbered more than 30,000, many people having bused in from all over the Caribbean island – a French territory – the transport provided by their municipalities.Almost everyone on the jet that went down last week was Martiniquan, many civil servants. The death toll made it the worst air accident in France’s history. All the religious communities were represented at the ceremony: Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant, Jewish, Muslim and Hindu. There were also officials from all the political parties, and envoys from Guadalupe and Guyana.There were no coffins. Children set candles next to photographs of each person who died, 152 Martiniquans and eight Colombians. Venezuelan authorities say they have only been able to identify the remains of about 20 people so far, that figure unconfirmed by Paris. No bodies have been brought home.

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