• Short Summary

    A mass grave in an English country churchyard marks the burial place of 13 victims who died last week's air disaster in Basle, Switzerland.

  • Description

    GV Axbridge Church

    SV Union-Jack at half-mast on church

    GV & SV Relatives filing into church (3 shots)

    SV & GV PAN People listen to church broadcasts from street

    CU Coffins in mass grave and flowers (2 shots)

    SV Wreaths being laid in pile

    GV Clergyman leads relatives to grave (2 shots)

    "Axbridge -- from where 16 of those who died came, most of them women. The town shut down completely, as residents paid their last respects, filing into the small thirteenth-century parish church for the funeral service. Around five-hundred friends and relatives squeezed inside while the rest of the town stood silently in the square listening to the service on loudspeakers. Thirteen of the dead were buried in a mass grave next to the church. Some of the victims came from the same family -- a mother and two daughters were buried together. Hundreds of spring flowers as well as wreaths were laid in tribute to the dead. The rector of Axbridge, who conducted the service, said today that it was probably the saddest day that Axbridge has ever known. The small and closely knit community has suffered a devastating blow. After the service, a special prayer was said for the children of the town. A similar service was held in the nearby town of Cheddar where eleven victims of the disaster had lived. And other individual service will be held in towns in North Somerset and in Bristol."

    Axbridge, a village of south-west England, closed down completely on Thursday as villagers paid last respects to local people who died in last week's Swiss air disaster. Sixteen of the hundred-and-seven victims -- most of them women on a day's outing -- came from the village. Five-hundred friends and relatives packed the tiny thirteenth-century church for the funeral service. A similar service was being held at the nearby beauty spot of Cheddar, where eleven of the victims has their homes.

    Because the Axbridge church was too small to contain all the mourners, the service was relayed to residents gathered in the village square. All shops and businesses had closed down at the time of the service. The dead been aboard a chartered airliner which crashed in a snowstorm near Basle, Switzerland.

    Thirteen of the Axbridge victims were buried in one mass grave. They included a mother and two married daughters. About forty people survived the crash -- the cause of which was still being probed at the time of the funeral. In the words of Axbridge's rector, who conducted the prayers, it was probably the saddest day that the village has ever known.

    Initials BB/0227 TH/PN/BB/0237


    Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved

    Background: A mass grave in an English country churchyard marks the burial place of 13 victims who died last week's air disaster in Basle, Switzerland. The village of Axbridge, home of many of the women on a day's outing to Switzerland when their flight crashed, today (Thursday) closed down as a mark of respect for the victims.

    At the tiny parish church in Axbridge, a funeral service was held for 16 of the 107 crash victims. Besides the 13 who were buried in a mass grave, another three were being cremated.

    This British Broadcasting Corporation film includes a commentary -- over natural sound -- which is transcribed below. An alternative is provided overleaf:

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