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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 25 June 2018

From celebrating to mourning: Victims of deadly attack in New York

The victims of Tuesday’s terror attack in New York included five Argentinian friends visiting for a college reunion as well as a Belgian national

This picture, taken on October 28,2017, of (left to right) Hernan Ferruchi, Alejandro Pagnucco, Ariel Erlij, Ivan Brajckovic, Juan Pablo Trevisan, Hernan Mendoza, Diego Angelini and Ariel Benvenuto, as they gather for a group photo before their trip to New York City, at the airport in Rosario, in the province of Santa Fe, Argentina. Courtesy of Trevisan family via AP
This picture, taken on October 28,2017, of (left to right) Hernan Ferruchi, Alejandro Pagnucco, Ariel Erlij, Ivan Brajckovic, Juan Pablo Trevisan, Hernan Mendoza, Diego Angelini and Ariel Benvenuto, as they gather for a group photo before their trip to New York City, at the airport in Rosario, in the province of Santa Fe, Argentina. Courtesy of Trevisan family via AP

The photograph shows a group of eight middle-aged men beaming with excitement and wearing T-shirts with the logo “libre” — or “free” — shortly before they boarded their flight from Argentina to New York for a school reunion.

Days later, five were dead and another was in hospital.

The victims of Tuesday’s terror attack in New York included five Argentinian friends visiting for a school reunion as well as a Belgian national, it emerged on Wednesday, in a reminder of the city’s status as a global destination.

Consular staff from several countries issued public appeals as they tried to trace whether any of their citizens were hurt when a rented pickup truck ploughed through pedestrians and cyclists.

Argentina’s foreign ministry identified the dead as Ariel Erlij, Hernan Diego Mendoza, Diego Enrique Angelini, Alejandro Damian Pagnucco, and Hernan Ferruchi.

It said a fifth citizen, Martin Ludovico Marro, who now lives in Connecticut, was recovering from injuries at Manhattan's Presbyterian Hospital.

They were all from the same Rosario Polytechnic School, and had flown to New York for the 30th anniversary of their graduation in 1987.

They had planned a trip that would also take them to Boston.

Mateo Estreme, Argentina’s consul in New York, said that the three survivors were in a state of shock.

“We are trying to figure out how to go on — especially the families,' he told The New York Post. “[They] are completely lost about, well, being very far from their relatives. They don't know what to do.”

The survivors were struggling to comprehend the carnage, he said.

“They are devastated,” he said. “They are still in shock because they cannot believe that this happened.”

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Argentine media reported that part of the trip had been paid for by Erlij, who ran a steel mill. He wanted to make sure that two the members of the group could be there.

They died on a bright, clear afternoon of the sort that New York does so well. They were following the leisurely flow of pedestrians and cyclists on the bike path that sits alongside the West Side Highway, close to the Hudson River.

They rode Citibikes, one of the great levellers of the city, rented with a credit card from roadside stations and used by everyone — from tourists looking for a different way to see the city to busy commuters trying to beat gridlock.

The five men were killed close to Stuyvesant High School at to the end of the deadly rampage, where the rented truck came to halt after careening more than 20 blocks along the cycle path.

In all, six people were declared dead at the scene. Two more died later in hospital.

At least 15 people were also wounded. The location meant that two students and two members of staff were among the injured, according to the city’s department of education.

The government of Belgium confirmed that one of its citizens had died, but provided no further information.

Didier Reynders, deputy prime minister and foreign affairs minister, said three others were wounded.

“I am deeply saddened to announce a Belgian victim in Manhattan,” he said. “I express my condolences to the family and friends.

“Our thoughts are with her family and her friends.”

He told the Belga news agency that the victim was a woman from the city of Roeselare, who was visiting New York with her mother and sister. They were now being looked after by consular staff, he added.

Condolences poured in from around the world as the city gears up for an influx of visitors this weekend for the New York City Marathon and for the Thanksgiving parade later this month.