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Last Updated: Thursday, 8 January, 2004, 13:26 GMT
Families mourn air crash victims
Relatives study at a memorial plaque listing the names of the victims
Relatives sobbed and embraced as they looked out to sea
Two memorial ceremonies for the victims of last week's Red Sea air disaster have been held in Egypt.

Some 150 mourners attended a religious service on land before sailing to the site of the crash, where flowers were dropped into the waters.

Most of the 148 victims on board the Egyptian Flash Air jet were French.

French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin has said his government will do all it can to discover the cause of the crash.

A special submarine is being sent to retrieve the plane's two flight recorders.

They lie more than one kilometre (0.6 miles) apart on the seabed.

Multi-faith services

The recovery operation was suspended as relatives of the passengers and crew who died in Saturday's crash arrived for the memorial ceremonies at the resort of Sharm el-Sheikh on Thursday morning.

Of those who died, 134 were French. About 122 of their relatives arrived on a French government-chartered plane on Wednesday, accompanied by doctors and grief counsellors.

Crying and embracing, the mourners first gathered in an open-air tent facing out onto the site of the crash on the Red Sea.

Search team at Sharm el-Sheikh
Recovery operations were halted for the memorial
Following prayers from a Catholic priest, Protestant minister and Muslim imam, a representative from each family was invited to throw a rose into the sea.

The names of the victims have been inscribed on a marble monument at the site.

One man reportedly collapsed following the service, after shouting: "It's terrible!"

Mourners later set off on a French naval vessel to the site of the accident, where a minute's silence was held and white roses and carnations thrown into the sea.

They were joined by Mr de Villepin and Suzanne Mubarak, wife of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

"We recall the memory of whole families who shared the same joys and were hit by the same fate," said Mr de Villepin at the service.

"France was touched deep in the heart by this tragedy. We cry for our missing and lend our support to you all."

Black box recovery

Late on Wednesday, Mr de Villepin said the plane crash would be methodically and systematically investigated to discover its cause, though there were no indications it was anything other than a terrible accident.

"Everything must be done to establish exactly the circumstances of this," he said.

But he warned it would require time and patience.

Both flight recorders lie on the seabed at depths of between 600 and 800 metres (1,970-2,625 feet) below the surface - too deep for the robotic devices currently at the scene.

"The signals were good and clear," said a French officer, Rear Admiral Jacques Mazars, quoted by the Associated Press news agency.

"The signal of the second black box is stronger than the first."

The prime minister's office in Paris told AP that a special submarine on loan from state-run France-Telecom could arrive in Egypt as early as Thursday.

That submarine can dive to 1,100 m (3,600 feet).

Another small submarine and a special French Navy vessel, the Beautemps-Beaupre, could also arrive within the week to map out the sea floor to locate further flight debris, including the fuselage.




WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's Heba Saleh
"Until the flight recorders have been retrieved no-one can be certain exactly what went wrong"



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