Reaction mixed on Flight 587 memorial

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Hundreds of relatives and friends of the victims in the nation's second deadliest air accident dedicated a much-awaited memorial Sunday with mementoes and mixed emotions.

Wearing their loss on T-shirts, scarves and buttons, families clutching red roses and photographs gathered on a foggy beachfront to look up the names of 265 loved ones killed when American Airlines Flight 587 crashed five years ago.

"It's something that we can come to and pray," said Ana Lora, who placed a model car near the name of her brother, Jose Francisco Lora, who collected cars. "This is something that, really, we need."

The memorial marks years of effort to create a tangible remembrance of the crash, which killed all 260 people on board and another five in the quiet Queens neighborhood where the jet fell. The National Transportation Safety Board eventually determined that the tail of the Airbus A300 had fallen off, and the agency blamed pilot error, inadequate pilot training and overly sensitive rudder controls.

The disaster jarred a city still raw and fearful after the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center two months before. The loss was also felt heavily in the Dominican Republic, where Flight 587 was bound from John F. Kennedy International Airport. Many passengers were of Dominican heritage.

Designed by a Dominican artist, the $9.2 million memorial is a curved wall inscribed with the names of the dead. Cutouts, where weeping relatives placed roses, wreaths and photographs, provide a view of the sea.

"Your ideas and your memories have been woven into it," Mayor Michael Bloomberg told those gathered Sunday.

But the memorial also was shaped by tensions over its location _ a seaside park, rather than the residential street where the plane crashed _ and some victims' relatives were still coming to terms with the outcome Sunday. After the city-sponsored ceremony, mourners flocked to an impromptu memorial around a tree at the crash site.

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