09/13/2004, 00.00
RUSSIA
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Orthodox bishop proposes building church in place of Beslan school

Beslan (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Mgr Feofan, Orthodox Bishop of Stavropol (Stavropol Krai) and Vladikavkaz (North Ossetia's capital), has proposed "building a church where School Number 1 once stood so that families can come and pray", this according to the Moscow Patriarchate website. Following events in Beslan local authorities had expressed their intention of tearing down the seriously damaged school building.

Bishop Feofan's proposal came during a recent visit to Beslan where he celebrated a remembrance ceremony for the victims of the terrorist attack. There he met with the families of the dead and prayed in the city cemetery that is now home to the victims of what he calls the "slaughter of the innocent". The Bishop suggested that the victims' names be engraved on commemorative plates that would be placed outside the church.

In the meantime, children who survived the ordeal are now trying with difficulty to rebuild their lives. Many refuse to go back to school still traumatised by what they went through in their days as hostages. "I won't go to school in Beslan," said 12-year-old Alan Karchiev, one of the survivors. "Or in Ossetia. Or in Russia." After a pause, he said: "I'll go to school abroad."

"I have had a hard time trying to get her to say a word," said Christina's mother, another survivor. Unlike her 10-year-old sister Dzera, Christina made it out alive. "She keeps on having this nervous laughter. She is agitated and at night tosses and turns."

Official figures put the Beslan death toll at 394 dead (176 children) with more than 700 injured (80 in very serious conditions). However, there are still 186 people unaccounted for.

Local authorities told cemetery staff to prepare at least 500 graves. (LF)

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