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Croatia bids emotional farewell to beloved singer Dragojevic

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Croatia bids emotional farewell to beloved singer Dragojevic

Croatia bids emotional farewell to beloved singer Dragojevic
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Reuters
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Tens of thousands of people on Tuesday said goodbye to Oliver Dragojevic, the late Croatian singer known for his songs celebrating love and the Adriatic Sea throughout former Yugoslavia.

The casket was carried through the coastal city of Split while a local choir sang Dragojevic's best-known songs. A religious ceremony was also held at a local church.

Lighting torches and applauding, crowds lined the docks as a boat carrying Dragojevic's body, escorted by two Croatian military ships and hundreds of small boats, sailed off toward his native island of Korcula for burial.

In Korcula, mourners waited in silence while the boat came in and applauded when the coffin was brought to land.

Reuters
Locals came to say farewell to their favourite singer Oliver Dragojević on his last journey to Vela Luka on KorčulaReuters

Croatian authorities said ferry lines from Split to Korcula would be free Wednesday so people could attend the funeral.

Dragojevic, who died Sunday at the age of 70, was known for his hoarse voice and accent typical of Croatia's Dalmatian coast.

The singer remained popular in the countries that made up Yugoslavia before it broke apart in a war during the 1990s.

Top Croatian officials, fellow singers, and admirers attended a memorial service at the Croatian National Theatre in Split.

Many cried as they applauded for several minutes before standing up and singing one of Dragojevic's songs.

"Oliver is really unique, the best," Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said after the event.

"In the last 50 years, he left a mark at the very heart of our society's culture, identity and music," Plenkovic said. "He is part of our best moments and memories since our childhood... We are happy to have lived the same time he did."

Croatia declared Tuesday a day of national mourning for Dragojevic. Flags were kept at half-staff and tributes aired on local television stations.