World leaders at blast memorial


On a cold overcast day, King Juan Carlos and the rest of the royal family led mourners in the midday Mass at Almudena Cathedral for those killed when 10 bombs concealed in backpacks ripped through four crowded commuter trains during the morning rush hour on March 11.

Inside the 19th-century church, an enormous white cloth bearing a black ribbon of mourning hung behind the altar. Spain’s Queen Sofia wiped tears from her eyes as the choir sang mournfully during communion. The king held a handkerchief to his face.

As the Mass ended, the king and queen and members of the royal family went from row to row clasping the hands of the bereaved or kissing them on the cheek.

With the Mass scene in the background, Spanish national television broadcast an on-screen list of the names of all 190 bombing victims.

President Jacques Chirac of France, Britain’s Prime Minister Tony Blair and Prince Charles, German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, US Secretary of State Colin Powell and more than a dozen other heads of state or government were at the Mass. Former Japanese Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori also attended.

The Mass brought much of Madrid to a standstill. Giant-screen TVs carrying the ceremony live were set up in a cobblestone courtyard outside the cathedral, in a Royal Palace garden and in Puerta del Sol, a bustling plaza where one of several makeshift memorials to the victims sprang up the day after the bombings.

The youngest victim was a seven-month-old girl.