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Sweden brings home its dead

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13:09 CET+01:00

The first of the Swedish victims of the South East Asian disaster have arrived back at Arlanda Airport in Stockholm. Six coffins, wrapped in the Swedish flag, were unloaded from a Hercules of the Swedish Air Force, which arrived from Thailand at just before three o'clock on Wednesday morning.

The bodies were met by around thirty relatives, who were joined by King Carl XVI Gustaf, Queen Silvia, Princesses Victoria and Madeleine, and Prince Carl Philip.

The six bodies were the first of the many hundreds of Swedes claimed by the tsunami to be brought home to the airport from which many of them had departed on holiday only weeks earlier. The ceremony was short and simple, with no speeches. The coffins were borne off the plane by soldiers, relatives laid flowers, and a prayer was said by Archbishop K.G. Hammar.

The Royal Family was visibly moved by the occasion. Princesses Victoria and Madeleine wept as the families laid their flowers. Victoria had broken off her holiday in Kenya to be present.

The government was represented by the Prime Minister, Göran Persson, and the Riksdag by the speaker, Björn von Sydow. Following the service the King and Prime Minister spoke with the relatives of the dead. The coffins were then loaded into hearses to be taken for post-mortem examinations.

The rest of Sweden paid its respects as it joined in a Europe-wide three minute silence at midday on Wednesday. Aftonbladet wrote on Wednesday that four out of ten Swedes know someone affected by the tragedy. The number of confirmed Swedish dead stands at 52, although this number is expected to rise markedly.

Sources: Dagens Nyheter, Svenska Dagbladet, Aftonbladet

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