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Mourners pay anniversary tribute to 'Estonia' victims

Tallinn (AP) - With no graves to tend and only nightmares to remember, mourners around the Baltic Sea paused yesterday to recall 852 people who died aboard the ferry Estonia a year ago.

The Estonia's successor, the Mare Balticum, stopped at the same spot in the Baltic Sea at the same hour when the ferry sank at 1:48am local time on 28 September last year. Passengers, including 200 to 300 relatives of victims, stood on the upper decks for a few minutes' silence.

The Estonia went down off the coast of Finland with 989 people aboard. Only 137 survived and 94 bodies were recovered. The ferry had sailed into a storm on its way from Tallinn to Stockholm. Waves wrenched off its front cargo door, flooded the car deck and dragged down the ship in about 30 minutes. Most of the victims were from Sweden and Estonia.

In Sweden, buses came to a halt, and radio and television went silent for one minute.

A national day of mourning was declared in Estonia and as President Lennart Meri laid a wreath near the harbour some mourners, including children orphaned by the accident, wept in front of a painting which depicted the Estonia engulfed by enormous white waves.