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
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