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Tens of thousands mourn in Poland

WARSAW, Poland — Some 100,000 Poles filled Warsaw's biggest public square Saturday, joining together for a memorial and funeral Mass for the 96 people killed in a plane crash a week earlier.

The thickening cloud of volcanic ash over Europe caused some world leaders — including President Obama, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper — to cancel plans to attend today's state funeral. Still, some European leaders said they would drive to Krakow.

The crowd in Warsaw's Pilsudski Square waved white-and-red Polish flags with black ribbons of mourning affixed to them. A massive white stage, a large cross in the center, was flanked by oversized photos of the dead, including President Lech Kaczynski.

The names of the dead were read aloud, starting with the president and his wife, Maria, while Marta, their only child, and Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the president's twin brother and former prime minister, looked on. Others at the service included former President Lech Walesa, Prime Minister Donald Tusk and acting president Bronislaw Komorowski.

"Our world went crashing down for the second time at the same place," Komorowski said of the crash near Russia's Katyn forest, site of a World War II massacre of Polish officers.

Tusk called the crash a calamitous event that was "the greatest tragedy in Poland since the war."

The coffins bearing Kaczynski and his wife were taken to a Gothic cathedral in Warsaw for an evening Mass, carried on artillery caissons pulled by army Humvees escorted by Polish soldiers on foot and horse-riding cavalry behind them.

After the Mass, their bodies will remain in the cathedral and then flown early today to Krakow aboard a military transport for the state funeral, said Presidential Palace spokesman Jacek Sasin.

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