Poland holds public memorial for crash victims

April 17, 2010 12:29
1 minute read.

WARSAW, Poland — Church bells pealed and emergency sirens blared across Poland at 8:56 a.m. (0656 GMT) Saturday to mark the minute a week earlier that a plane crashed as it attempted to land in Russia, claiming the life of Polish President Lech Kaczynski, his wife and 94 others.

The crash plunged Poland into a deep grief not seen since the death of Pope John Paul II five years ago.

The bells tolling were a precursor to the giant outdoor memorial later Saturday in Pilsudski Square that is expected to draw hundreds of thousands of mourners.

Acting President Bronislaw Komorowski and Prime Minister Donald Tusk are to speak at the ceremonies in Pilsudski Square, along with Izabela Sariusz-Skapska, daughter of one of the victims.

There will be two minutes of silence starting at 12 p.m. (1000 GMT; 6 a.m. EDT) followed by the reading of all 96 victims' names and the playing of the national anthem. A funeral mass will take place afterward.

The ceremony is the first of two days of somber ceremonies and will be followed by a funeral mass for the first couple at St. John's Cathedral at 6 p.m. (1600 GMT; noon EDT) in Warsaw.

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