EgyptAir Victims To Be Remembered

Tuesday, October 31st 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

NEWPORT, R.I. (AP) — A smashed camera lens. A suitcase that smelled of jet fuel. A passport.

For a year, relatives of the 217 victims of EgyptAir Flight 990 clung to these spare reminders of their loved ones' last moments.

On Tuesday, the first anniversary of the crash, families will have something more: a granite memorial in a seaside Newport park near the crash site.

More than 500 relatives, friends and dignitaries were expected at a service marking the day the Boeing 767 plunged into the ocean off the Massachusetts island of Nantucket.

``The service will be very emotional, but it's something you have to go through,'' said Jeff Kowalsky of Detroit, whose parents were killed.

Rain fell as families boarded buses to go to the memorial site. Gov. Lincoln Almond ordered all state flags flown at half-staff for the day.

National Transportation Safety Board Chairman James Hall was invited to speak, along with victims' family members.

The monument is roughly hewn on three of its four sides, symbolizing the families' pain and their difficult journey since the crash.

The inscription in gold lettering on a black background reads, ``In loving memory of the 217 family members and friends lost on EgyptAir Flight 990. ... May God's eternal light shine upon them.''

The final phrase, ``They are not gone from us,'' is inscribed in French, Arabic and English.

On the ground before the monument are 217 bricks etched with the names of those who died aboard the flight.

``There's nothing beautiful about it,'' said Jack Afonso of Riverside Stone Co., who created the monument. ``This is to commemorate the dead.''

Beyond the monument is a panoramic view of the ocean where the plane crashed, the sound of the waves lapping against the rocks a few hundred feet in the distance.

Five coffins of the unidentified remains recovered from the crash site have already been buried in the Island Cemetery. A sixth was to be buried Tuesday in a private service for the families.

The graves will be marked with another monument carved by Afonso, carrying a message similar to the one at the state park.

On Wednesday, the National Transportation Safety Board will allow families to tour the aircraft wreckage, stored in a hangar at a former Navy base. The NTSB has not released a cause of the crash.


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