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Families bury Swissair disaster victims

The families of the 229 victims of Swissair Flight 111 were burying their dead Wednesday in private memorial services.

The families of the 229 victims of Swissair Flight 111 were burying their dead Wednesday in private memorial services.
The casks containing the unidentified remains of the passengers were buried at, Bayswater and Whalesback, two locations near Peggy’s Cove, which overlooks the crash site 10 kilometres out in the Atlantic Ocean.

The coffins, which arrived in a parade of hearses, were placed one by one into the ground as Royal Canadian Mounted Police ensured the families’ wishes for privacy.

The burial was shielded from public and the media by a cardboard fence and barriers erected around the memorial site at Bayswater.

"In memory of the 229 men, women and children aboard Swissair Flight 111 who perished off these shores," reads part of the inscription engraved on a smooth wall of granite set up near Peggy's Cove. The names of most of the victims have also been etched in a separate granite monument. Some families refused to have their names mentioned.

"It's strange," said Muriel Kitsinger, who lost her husband. "I like to go back here. I feel closer and I like the area. ... On the other end, it's very difficult."

Barbara Fetherolf, whose daughter died in the crash, said from her Philadelphia home that she could not bear to attend the memorial. Nor can she or her husband Mark turn on the television.

"We're just in too much pain to watch this," she said. "It's just too much for us."

A public memorial will be held in Halifax on Thursday to mark the anniversary of the tragedy. There will also be an interfaith candlelight ceremony at the Citadel Hill overlooking the port city.

Switzerland is represented by President Ruth Dreifuss.

Memorial concerts are planned in Geneva and Paris on Friday, while a service for the relatives of the 15 Swissair crew members who died will be held in Zurich.

Flight 111 crashed at 22:31 local Canadian time on September 2 last year. The aircraft was en route from New York to Geneva when it went down carrying 215 passengers and 14 crew. There were no survivors.

The cause of the accident is still under investigation, particularly with regard to the fire which caused a massive outage of the aircraft's electrical system.

Investigators have recovered about 90 percent of the plane. A final report is not expected for over a year.

Swissair faces $16 billion in legal claims and has offered to settle with the families of the victims for an undetermined amount.

From staff and wire reports.

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