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Chilean president decreed national mourning for plane crash victims

(Xinhua)

08:24, September 05, 2011

SANTIAGO, Sept. 4 (Xinhua) Chilean President Sebastian Pinera on Sunday declared a two-day national mourning day starting from Sept. 5 in memory of victims of plane crash in the Juan Fernandez archipelago.

Pinera announced his decision from the military base Group 10 of the Chilean Air Force (FACH), where he participated in a military ceremony which honored after one of the four victims found in the crash area.

"The country is in a feeling of deep sorrow and pain, so I decided to declare national mourning on Monday and Tuesday (Sept. 5 and 6), in solidarity with the victims," said the president.

Shortly before the ceremony, Pinera communicated by video conference with the Defense Minister Andres Allamand, who is in the Juan Fernandez Islands to oversee the search procedure damaged aircraft.

"So far they have found four bodies, two men and two women, and there have been no other discoveries of this kind ", added the president.

"We hope this effort will be successful and we could find the dead ones and return their bodies to their families," said the president as he mentioned the large deployment of ships, airplanes and fisher cooperations in the area.

"We believe that there are no survivors," adding that "we can only pray that the bodies would be found," said Pinera, recognizing the difficult geographical and meteorological conditions that exist to carry out rescue work.

Pinera made the remarks after bid farewell to the 27-year-old Erwin Nunez Rebolledo, whose remains were sent to the northern city of Antofagasta, where he will be buried.

Nunez is one of the four crash victims whose bodies have been found and identified, along with Robert Bruce and Sylvia Slier, both of the National Television of Chile, and Gaul Diaz, an official of the Council of Culture of Chile.

According to the Chilean government, the plane crash occurred Friday afternoon off the shore of Juan Fernandez Islands. The largest of its kind in 20 years in Chile killed 21 people on board, including Philip Camiroaga, the country's most famous entertainer, which has caused public outcry.

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