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The Sahara memorial
01-22-2014, 06:32 PM #1
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Posts:4,874 Threads:522 Joined:Sep 2012


At 16°51′53.748″N 11°57′13.362″E in the Sahara desert there is an intriguing landmark - the outline of an aeroplane pointing in the direction of Paris. Visible on satellite pictures, this beautiful image, like a tattoo on the landscape, has been a viral hit.

It is a memorial to a flight that never reached its destination.

On 19 September 1989 UTA flight 772 was travelling from Brazzaville in the Republic of Congo to Paris when it was blown up over the Sahara desert. All 156 passengers and 14 crew members were killed.

Where the French plane fell, the families of the victims have built a lasting and visually striking memorial to the dead. A life-size silhouette of the aircraft lies inside a dark stone circle surrounded by 170 broken mirrors, each one representing someone who died. Jutting out at the northern point, like a sundial, stands the right wing of the DC10.

Guillaume Denoix de Saint Marc was the driving force behind the memorial. His father Jean-Henri died on the DC10. Creating it was the final act in an 18-year quest for justice which cost him his business and overshadowed his marriage - but has left a lasting legacy.

On the day of the tragedy, Denoix de Saint Marc was frantically preparing a presentation for a big client. He was 26 and managed a sales and marketing company in Paris. When his mother rang to say she was worried about his father's flight, he didn't want to listen. "I was really rude, telling her I was at work and I had many important things to do," he says. When he hung up, a colleague suggested perhaps he should call back. That was when he realised his father's plane had disappeared.


He went to his mother's home to wait for news. There was none. At Roissy airport, the flight-board just said: "Delayed". Relatives had to rely on news bulletins to find out what was going on.

The fate of the flight was confirmed the next morning when a French air force plane flew overhead. It took another day for paratroopers to reach the site of the crash. When they did, they confirmed there were no survivors.

Two days later, traces of explosive were found, indicating a bomb. The French government appointed a terror specialist, Judge Jean-Louis Bruguiere, to investigate. He did not skimp on the task, transporting 15 tonnes of debris from the crash site.





Full story here

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