• Kyodo

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Families of victims of the Japan Airlines jumbo jet crash that killed 520 people passengers marked the 19th anniversary of the tragedy Thursday on Mount Osutaka, Gunma Prefecture.

By 10 a.m., 40 families, comprising a total 177 people, climbed the steep mountain to the site, where they cleared weeds around gravestones and placed flowers and cakes before a monument dedicated to the crash victims.

The nearly full Boeing 747, on a flight from Tokyo to Osaka, slammed into Mount Osutaka, killing 14 of the 15 crew members and 506 of the 509 passengers.

“I could climb this mountain because my husband and the people who died with him were watching me from above,” said Toshiko Takahama, 60, whose husband, Masami, captained JAL Flight 123. “The feeling hasn’t changed for 19 years.”

She and about 140 other people attended the memorial service on the same day last year.

This year, a makeshift road for a weir construction project on the mountain has been built and people rode on buses for part of the way.

Yoshichika Yoshimura, 56, who lost his father, Kennosuke, in the accident said that the annual trek was made much easier thanks to the road.

“I told (his spirit) that the family are all doing fine,” he said.

The crash was the worst single-aircraft accident in Japan.

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