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Families Observe Flt. 587 Crash Anniv.

November 12, 2005

NEW YORK (AP) _ Scores of families gathered in a seaside neighborhood Saturday to observe the fourth anniversary of one of the nation’s deadliest airline disasters.

The crash of American Airlines Flight 587 on a quiet residential block in the Belle Harbor section of Queens killed 265 people _ including five on the ground _ on Nov. 12, 2001, at a time when the city was still reeling from the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center.

``It feels like yesterday,″ said Juan Reyes, 19, of the Bronx, who lost his father in the crash. ``It happened four years ago, but it seems like four minutes ago.″

Mayor Michael Bloomberg told the hundreds gathered on a chilly morning that the city hopes to pick a design soon for a $2 million memorial to the victims. Officials hope to have a monument in place next fall.

``For many people in this city, our grief remains so strong because passage of those four years has not filled those 265 empty chairs at the dinner table, or the 265 empty spots in our hearts,″ he said.

Flight 587 had just taken off from John F. Kennedy International Airport for a flight to the Dominican Republic when a section of its tail tore away as the plane’s pilot battled turbulence.

The Dominican national anthem was played at the start of Saturday’s ceremony and former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani eulogized the dead.

Outside of the 2001 terrorist attacks, the crash was the second worst in U.S. aviation history. The deadliest was a 1979 disaster at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport that killed 275.

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