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Chinese students killed in air crash remembered by Californian residents


16:11, July 12, 2013

LOS ANGELES, July 11 (Xinhua) -- Two Chinese teenager girls who died Saturday in an air crash in San Francisco were remembered at a rally near Los Angeles on Thursday evening.

"A friend is like a heart that goes strong until the end," Abby Salas, 11, a student from the West Valley Christian School, which was to host a group of Chinese students who prematurely terminated their trip, recited a poem written by a fellow student to remember the lost friends.

Ye Mengyuan and Wang Linjia were among students from a middle school in East China's Zhejiang province who were expected to have a three-week study tour at the U.S. school.

But a tragic turn of events happened Saturday when the plane they were travelling in crashed upon landing at San Francisco-Oakland International Airport.

The prayer hall in the school about 50 km northwest of downtown Los Angeles was turned into a memorial site, where two sets of empty chairs and desks were placed in the front of the platform. A cloth of black and white was draped in the background.

In front of the podium sat three wreaths, two white and one red, in remembrance of the two girls and their country -- China. On the rim of the platform were 34 candles, which represented the years the dead Chinese girls had lived together.

Around 300 people from the local community gathered to show their sorrow and support for the victims' families. Some of them were visibly moved to tears when "The Amazing Grace" was played through the loudspeakers.

"We love them," school administrator Derek Swales told Xinhua at the end of the 40-minute service.

Recalling the time when his brother lost his 10-year-old daughter, Swales said: "I know what it is like to lose the loved one. When my brother lost his daughter, it hurt."

The participants, many of them churchgoers from the quiet and peaceful neighborhood and families which were supposed to host the Chinese students, showed their grief and hope by penning their feelings on the banners prepared by the school.

"You will never be forgotten," a participant wrote. "Your memories and the joy you've brought will always stay alive in the hearts of the ones who knew and loved you."

"I am so sorry for your loss," Catherine Davidson wrote to the two Chinese girls' families. "I hope one day your hearts will be put back together."

The school planned to host three trips, one from China and two from the Republic of Korea. The Chinese students' trip, which was the first of the three, has been canceled, Swales said.

The signed banners and memorial plaques will be sent to the victims' school and families in China, said Swales.

The community has held a fundraising drive in memory of the girls. The money will also be sent to the families, according to the school.

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