13 February 2013

Liberians Grieved - As Remains of Dead Guinean Military Officials Conveyed to Conakry

The remains of the late Guinean military officers were flown home yesterday Tuesday, a day after the fatal plane crash in which they died, without Liberians expressing deep sense of grief.

Dozens watched in despair and with utter loss of emotional control as the remains of 10 top Guinean military officers plus a journalist were conveyed from the Firestone Hospital where they were deposited to the Roberts International Airport (RIA).

Residents of Harbel, the official headquarters of Firestone, lined the main route from the Firestone Hospital to pay their respect to the fallen Guinean brothers as their bodies were conveyed in a rather solemn mood to the RIA and later taken to Conakry, Guinea.

A police escort van led a fleet of cars totaling about 15 that slowly drove pass sympathizers and well-wishers.

As the caskets bearing the remains of the fallen heroes were being off-loaded from a Firestone Truck, grief overwhelmed attendants of the occasion which included representatives of the Liberian Government, namely Defense Minister Brownie Samukai, Associate Justice Cllr. Jamesetta Wolokollie, Gender Minister Julia Duncan Cassel and Deputy Information Minister Norris Tweah.

Others included former Internal Affairs Minister Harrison Kanwea, Liberia's Cultural Ambassador Juli Endee, former Foreign Minister and Adviser to President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, George Wallace and Minister of State without Portfolio, Cummany Wesseh.

The caskets were later dripped with the Guinean flag and then escorted to an UN-chartered plane by officers of the Armed Forces of Liberia in a very somber manner, as dozens others looked on and others used their phones and other electronic gadgets to capture the scenes.

The Guinean Government has declared three days of national mourning in honor of their sons and this paper gathered from officials that there would be an official ceremony over their remains in Conakry before they are interred in keeping with the Moslem traditions to which almost of them belonged.

Other sources said the Guinean government will turn the bodies over to relatives of the soldiers to perform other traditional rites before their interment.

All occupants of the chartered Spanish-owned plane died as it to the ground and burst into flames few yards away from main runway of the RIA.

Cause of the crash is yet to be determined. Officials said the "black box and flight recorder" already recovered will be sent to Canada but it is not known how long will that be.

The delegation led by the Chief of Staff of the Guinean Army was en route to Liberia to join their Liberian counterparts in the observance of the Armed Forces Day of Liberia. February 11 each year is observed as national holiday.

The Liberian government delegation conveying the remains of the deceased soldiers to Guinea include Defense Minister Brownie Samukai, Presidential Adviser George Wallace who accidentally served as orator of the Armed Forces Day Celebration, Transport Minister Len Eugene Nagbe, Deputy Minister Norris Tweah among others.

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