Poland buries president as world leaders cancel
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Last Updated: Sunday, April 18, 2010, 20:00
Krakow: Tens of thousands of grieving Poles packed Krakow Sunday for the burial of President Lech Kaczynski and his wife alongside past kings and heroes, though Europe's air travel crisis kept many world leaders away.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev arrived for the state funeral, but the ash plume that has caused global travel chaos prevented his US counterpart Barack Obama and dozens of other dignitaries from coming.

Mourners applauded, tossed flowers and waved red and white flags as the Kaczynskis' cortege weaved slowly through the narrow streets of the historic city, after their bodies were flown by military aircraft from Warsaw.

The funeral marks the climax of an outpouring of national grief over an air crash near the Russian city of Smolensk eight days ago that killed the presidential couple and 94 others, mostly top military and civilian officials.

Ceremonies started with a Roman Catholic funeral mass at the Gothic Basilica of Our Lady in Krakow's central square, where huge crowds had gathered to see the service relayed live on giant screens.

Kaczynski, an often divisive nationalist, and his spouse were to be laid to rest in the cathedral crypt of Krakow's hilltop Wawel castle, alongside Poland's monarchs, national heroes, saints and poets.


First Published: Sunday, April 18, 2010, 20:00

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