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Tuesday, 13 November, 2001, 02:33 GMT
Dominicans mourn crash victims
Grieving relatives at the airport in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
At least 150 people from the island are feared dead
The Dominican Republic Government has declared three days of mourning following the fatal crash of an American Airlines plane bound for the country's capital, Santo Domingo.

It is believed that up to 150 people on the plane, an Airbus 300 en route from New York's JFK airport, were from the small Caribbean nation.

Relatives of passengers on Flight 587 collapsed in grief as they learned that their loved ones had been killed.

Expressing deep sorrow, Dominican President Hipolito Mejia said "any event that results in the loss of human life" was occasion for mourning.

Meanwhile, Vice President Milagros Ortiz Bosch promised that children orphaned by the crash would receive government aid.

Map of the Dominican Republic
There were scenes of shock and anguish in the Dominican Republic, as news broke that many of those who died were from the country.

The country had already lost about 40 citizens in the 11 September attacks, many of whom worked in the World Trade Center and several returned home since then.

Relatives' grief

Distraught relatives at New York's JFK airport
The small country also lost at least 40 people in the 11 September attacks
"Oh my God!" said Miriam Fajardo, crying after being told that her sister and three nephews were aboard. "I hadn't seen them in eight years. Now they're gone."

Many people have emigrated from this Caribbean nation to the United States to work and infrequent reunions are awaited eagerly by their families.

Many fainted or sunk to their knees on learning of the disaster.

"Not the child, please not the child," sobbed Germania Brito who was waiting for her sister Mariana Flores, her sister's husband, John, and their 2-year-old son Isaias. "May God help us all."

The airport at Santo Domingo, the capital of the Dominican Republic, set up an emergency centre where relatives could wait for more news. Medics and psychologists are giving counselling.

But authorities in Santo Domingo said they could not yet release names of those on board. All those on the flight are known to have died.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Simon Montague
"At Santo Domingo airport, scenes of grief at the loss of so many loved ones"
Specialist in Caribbean affairs Colin Harding
"There were a number of children on the flight"
Todd Carty, Chairman, American Airlines
"Our thoughts and our prayers are with the families of our passengers and employees"

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