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Sunday, October 31, 1999 Published at 12:45 GMT


Egypt mourns its dead

Relatives at Cairo airport checked passenger lists

Relatives of EgyptAir flight 990 victims from Egypt are to be flown to the US on a special flight organised by the airline.

The loss of flight 990
The relatives are being tended by nurses and counsellors at an emergency centre set up in Cairo airport.

Many collapsed as the news was broken to them that their loved ones were on the flight.

President Hosni Mubarak issued a statement expressing his "deep sadness" and offered condolences to families of the victims.

Sixty-two Egyptians were passengers on the plane and it is thought that all 18 airline employees on the flight were also Egyptians.

BBC's Caroline Hawley in Cairo: "Scenes of real distress"
A BBC correspondent in Egypt says the country has been stunned by the disaster.

Egyptian Prime Minister Ated Obeid has promised that the government will pay for the repatriation of the bodies and compensate the families.

EgyptAir chairman Mohammed Saheen Rayyan expressed his personal condolences over the tragedy and promised to resign if the airline was found to be at fault.

He is expected to fly to New York on Tuesday to see the crash investigation into EgyptAir's most serious crash at first hand.

Identifying the dead

Authorities in New York have been contacting the relatives of US victims.

[ image:  ]
A similar counselling operation has centre has been set up at JFK airport's Ramada Hotel.

Relatives who travel to New York from inside the US or from other parts of the world will be put up at the Ramada, or in neighbouring hotels.

Christian, Jewish and Islamic chaplains were also called to the Ramada to help console relatives.

Transport and accommodation will also be arranged for relatives wanting to travel north to Rhode Island where debris from the crash is being brought ashore.

The task of identifying the victims is also expected to take place in Rhode Island.

In Los Angeles, where the plane began its journey on Saturday afternoon, an American Red Cross spokesperson said trained mental health counsellors would be made available to families once victims had been identified.

EgyptAir telephone number for concerned relatives is +1 800 243 1094.

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