Mourners in New Zealand pay respects to Sir Edmund HillaryJanuary 21st, 2008 - 8:22 pm ICT by admin
Auckland (New Zealand), Jan.21 (ANI): Hundreds of New Zealanders paid their last respects to Sir Edmund Hillary, the first climber to scale Mount Everest, ahead of his state funeral on Tuesday.
The mourners gathered at Auckland’s Holy Trinity Cathedral to file past his body as it lay in state.
Prime Minister Helen Clark, who attended a short ceremony at the cathedral, described Sir Edmund as “New Zealand’s greatest hero”.
The renowned climber died of a heart attack on January 11 at the age of 88.
According to the BBC, Tuesday’s state funeral will be broadcast across New Zealand and shown on a giant screen in an Auckland park.
Early on Monday, Sir Edmund’s flag-draped coffin was brought into the cathedral, where he will lie in state for 24 hours. Local Maori offered a traditional welcome as military personnel carried the casket inside. The mountaineer’s wife, June, and son, Peter, attended the ceremony, as did Ms Clark.
“People have been stopped in their tracks since they learned of Sir Ed’s passing. New Zealand has lost its greatest hero,” Prime Minister Clark said.
About 100 members of the Nepalese community were among the first to pay their respects, as hundreds more people lined up outside the cathedral.
Tributes have flooded in from around the world since the death of the climber.
Sir Edmund became known all around the world after he and Tenzing Norgay became the first to scale the world’s highest peak on May 29, 1953.
After the ascent, the New Zealander led several expeditions to the South Pole and devoted time to helping ethnic Sherpas of Nepal’s Khumbu region through his Himalayan Trust. (ANI)
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