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US

Families of Flight 990 passengers flying from Egypt to New York

October 31, 1999
Web posted at: 4:33 p.m. EST (2133 GMT)

CAIRO, Egypt (CNN) -- Families of the Egyptian passengers on board EgyptAir Flight 990 are scheduled to be flown to the United States on Monday, airline officials said.

A plane carrying the relatives was scheduled to leave Cairo at 1:30 a.m. local time (6:30 p.m. Sunday, EST) for a flight to the United States.

Flight 990, carrying 217 people, crashed early Sunday into waters off the island of Nantucket, Massachusetts, en route from New York to Cairo. The U.S. Coast Guard has recovered bodies and flight debris from the area of last radar contact with the jetliner.

New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani said the plane also was carrying passengers "from all over the United States." He said their relatives also were being flown to New York. The mayor said he did not know exactly how many Americans were on board, but he thought there were several.

"It seems to me the that the largest number, the largest nationality was American," Guiliani said.

He said there were at least two tour groups on the plane.

The mayor offered his condolences to the families of the crash victims.

"Having seen this happen before I know haw awful it is. If there is anything the city of New York can do to ease the burden," Guiliani said.

Counselors, Muslim clerics helping families

Two Muslim religious leaders arrived Saturday at the Ramada Inn at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York to console relatives of passengers who may have perished aboard the plane.

Ghazi Khankan, Imam of the Islamic Center of Long Island in Westbury, New York, told CNN that the parents of one of his center's members were on board the EgyptAir flight. Khankan said the parents lived in Egypt and were returning home after a visit to their son on Long Island.

As Khankan went into the Ramada to console grieving family members, he explained how people in the Muslim faith try to accept the death of loved ones.

"Death for us is a natural way, part of life," he said. "We are educated to feel patience and we are ordered to be patient under these circumstances. The moment we are born, God knows when we will die."

A Muslim cleric, from the Islamic Cultural Center in Manhattan, and grief counselors were also at the airport to comfort families.

The Red Cross also will help the families.

"In whatever cities the families are in, the Red Cross in that city will contact that family and provide counseling to them, there, locally," said Peggy Brutsche, Director of Disaster Services for the Red Cross in Los Angeles.

"Helping them talk through the situation, giving them emotional support, referring them to other mental health resources in the community, and, you know, trying to get them come to grips with their loss," said Brutsche.



RELATED STORIES:
EgyptAir Flight 990 crashes, 217 feared dead
October 31, 1999
Message Board: Plane crashes


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