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Swissair crash victims to be remembered in Switzerland

After a candlelight vigil in Canada, families, friends and relatives here in Switzerland will hold memorial services in Zurich and Geneva later on Friday to mark the anniversary of the Swissair Flight 111 crash a year ago.

This content was published on September 3, 1999 - 12:01

After a candlelight vigil in Canada, families, friends and relatives here in Switzerland will hold memorial services in Zurich and Geneva later on Friday to mark the anniversary of the Swissair Flight 111 crash a year ago.

Memorial concerts and services are planned for this afternoon in Zurich and Geneva. A simultaneous ceremony will also take place in Paris.

With a Muslim chant and a Jewish song, gospel singing and a poem to a lost father, relatives and friends held a candlelight vigil a few hours earlier across the Atlantic in Canada.

Several hundred people -- fishermen, sailors, firefighters, rescue workers, airline employees, and government officials, many of whom participated in recovery activities -- joined relatives for the service at Halifax Citadel, a historic fortress overlooking the city in Nova Scotia.

Amid the shadowy stone walls of the Citadel, the relatives held 229 candles, one for each person who died September 2, 1998, off the coast of the tiny fishing village of Peggy's Cove.

Many of the relatives thanked villagers for their help, both in recovery efforts and in comforting the grieving.

"Flight 111 was no ordinary flight. The place it had to crash was no ordinary place," Miles Gerety, of Redding, Connecticut, whose brother Pierce died on the flight, told the gathering.

"We came to Nova Scotia in shock and in devastation," Gerety said, his voice cracking, "in a pit of sorrow, and you reached out your hands to us and somehow in your simple decent compassionate way let us know we had love."

The group held a moment of silence at 10:31 p.m. -- the moment the out-of-control jumbo jet slammed into the Atlantic.

Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien and Swiss President Ruth Dreifuss were among those attending the memorial ceremonies.

Dreifuss expressed Switzerland’s thanks to all those involved in the rescue efforts, including the rescue teams and the government of Nova Scotia.

“I would like to thank all the people of this area, too, for their united support and their warmth, for making the families and friends of the victims welcome, and for offering comfort and support,” Dreifuss said

The vigil was the culmination of a series of memorial ceremonies that began Wednesday with a private burial service at a new monument in the coastal hamlet of Bayswater, where about two dozens coffins holding mostly unidentified remains of the victims were buried.

From staff and wire reports.

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