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Page last updated at 00:10 GMT, Friday, 28 August 2009 01:10 UK

Mourners bid farewell to Kennedy

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Members of the public pay their final respects at the John F Kennedy library

Crowds have gathered in Boston to pay their respects to Edward Kennedy on the first of three days of ceremonies to commemorate the US senator.

Mourning began on Thursday with a private family Mass at the family compound in Massachusetts.

Mr Kennedy's body was then driven to Boston, where his coffin was put on public view.

Mr Kennedy's death on Tuesday prompted a flood of tributes from across the US and around the world.

He will be buried on Saturday evening at the Arlington National Cemetery.

A large group of family members attended Thursday's private Mass at the family compound in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts.

Later, thousands of people lined the route as a hearse carrying Mr Kennedy's coffin left in a motorcade on the 70-mile (113km) trip to Boston.

'Extraordinary good'

There, the hearse wound through the streets of the city past some of Senator Kennedy's favourite landmarks, before delivering his coffin to the John F Kennedy presidential library and museum.

Edward Kennedy - file photo

As the motorcade passed through Boston, people applauded solemnly as helicopters buzzed overhead.

Mourners were allowed into the JFK building, about 35-40 at a time, to file past the closed coffin placed before a large window overlooking the ocean.

Senator Kennedy's widow Vicki and other members of the family shook hands with the mourners.

Earlier, in Hyannis Port, the mood was sombre.

"It was very moving when the hearse came by - it was observed in total silence," said John Celentano, a 62-year-old business consultant.

"You felt you were part of history."

After the public have paid their respects in Boston, there will be an invitation-only memorial service at the JFK library on Friday evening.

On Saturday, President Barack Obama is expected to address a funeral Mass for Mr Kennedy at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Basilica in Boston.

Mr Kennedy will be buried on Saturday next to his brothers, John F Kennedy and Robert F Kennedy, at the Arlington national cemetery in northern Virginia.

Succession talks

In the US, Mr Kennedy's death has been seen as the end of an era.

Mourners file past the coffin of Ted Kennedy
The coffin was draped in the US flag

The charismatic senator had long been the leader of one of America's great political dynasties, following the assassinations of his brothers in 1963 and 1968.

In a televised tribute on Wednesday, Mr Obama said Mr Kennedy had achieved "extraordinary good" and was "one of the most accomplished Americans ever to serve our democracy".

Meanwhile, discussions have begun over how to replace Mr Kennedy in the Senate.

Under current Massachusetts law, his seat could remain vacant for several months until a special election to choose his successor.

Senate Democrats fear that if the seat remains empty for too long, the party will struggle to pass a crucial healthcare reform that President Obama is hoping to push through.

There have been calls for a change in the law that would allow the Massachusetts governor to install an interim senator to fill the seat until the special election takes place.

Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick has said he supports the plan.



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