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Memorial at sea for teen pilot after deadly crash

28 July 2014, 18:56

Pago Pago - Nearly a hundred people gathered on a ferry off the coast of American Samoa during a memorial service honouring the US teenager who died and his father who is missing after their plane crashed during an attempt to circumnavigate the world.

The body of 17-year-old Haris Suleman was found shortly after his plane crashed in the Pacific Ocean on Tuesday after leaving Pago Pago. US Coast Guard officials on Sunday said they were suspending the search for 58-year-old Babar Suleman.

Haris Suleman had hoped to set the record for the fastest circumnavigation around the world in a single-engine airplane with the youngest pilot in command. His journey also was a fundraiser to help build schools in his father's native Pakistan.

"Such challenges of circumnavigating the world, an enormous contribution to build schools, are charities of those with great hearts, and unconditional love to society", American Samoa Lieutenant Governor Lemanu Peleti Mauga said during the memorial service.

Among the attendees were three members of the Suleman family. The memorial service and a wreath-laying were held at the site where local authorities believed the plane crashed.

Nabel Raazi, a family friend, spoke on behalf of the family. He said the last few days had been "a terrible, harrowing experience for the family, who is still in great shock. It will take a long time of grieving to overcome this", he said.

He also said the family is still hopeful that Babar Suleman can still be found.

Rear Admiral Cari Thomas said in a statement on Sunday that the decision to suspend the search for Babar Suleman was "difficult". The Coast Guard said on Thursday it had found wreckage from the plane.

Babar Suleman had long dreamed of flying around the world. He and his son left Indiana on 19 June and had been expected to arrive back in the US on Saturday.

- AP


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