Relatives of the 1985 Japan Airlines jet crash victims paid tribute to their loved ones Friday evening, the eve of the 32nd anniversary of the disaster, by floating paper lanterns on a river in the mountainous village of Ueno in Gunma Prefecture northwest of Tokyo.
On Aug. 12, 1985, Flight 123, en route from Tokyo to Osaka with 524 passengers and crew aboard, crashed into Osutaka Ridge in the village, killing all but four in the world's deadliest single-aircraft accident.
The crash, which occurred during the Bon summer holidays, killed many families and others on their way home to see relatives. Among the victims was the 43-year-old singer Kyu Sakamoto, best known for his hit song "Sukiyaki."
A rupture in the Boeing 747's rear pressure bulkhead blew off its vertical stabilizer, destroying its hydraulics and rendering it uncontrollable.
On Saturday, many of the relatives who gathered for the lantern-floating event are expected to climb the steep mountainside to the accident site on Osutaka Ridge, where the grave markers of their loved ones and a monument dedicated to the victims are erected.
A memorial ceremony will be held later in the evening at "Irei no sono" (Memorial Garden) at the foot of the mountain, with a moment of silence to be observed at 6:56 p.m. when the four-engine aircraft crashed into the mountainside 32 years ago.