Russian families mourn young victims
UFA, Russia (CNN) -- As investigators try to piece together what caused two airplanes to collide over Germany, many people in one Russian town are left with gaping holes in their families.
Fifty-two children, five adults and a crew of 12 died Monday when their Bashkirian Airlines plane en route to a resort in Spain collided with a cargo plane over Germany.
Parents, grandparents, husbands and wives began gathering as news broke in Ufa in the small republic of Bashkortostan east of Moscow in the Ural Mountains.
"She was the only child in the family, and her father loved her more than anybody," said Mikhail Startsev, grandfather of a 14-year-old girl. "We will never manage to overcome this tragedy."
The families were applying for visas to travel to the site where the plane went down.
"They just want to see the site of the crash. The place their children died. They want to take at least a piece of the soil that could contain even one drop of blood," said Bashkortostan Deputy Prime Minister Khalyaf Ishmuratov.
Three days of mourning were declared in the republic as the families prepare to bury their dead.
The children who died on that flight were the best and brightest: outstanding students, athletes, budding artists -- all specially chosen for a trip abroad.
Doctors and psychiatrists were trying to help the grieving relatives.
"All the relatives were in complete shock. We came here as soon as we heard about it," said Dr. Rashidam Yusupova, the assistant chief doctor.
The Bashkirian Airlines said part of the children's group did make it to Spain over the weekend on another airliner.
The children who died had missed their initial flight when they went to the wrong airport and had to take an alternative flight Monday.
Bashkirian Airlines officials said that contrary to initial reports their pilots were experienced and spoke English and that the plane met all European technical requirements.
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