Image: 95659360
Luis Acosta  /  AFP - Getty Images
Haitians take part in an open air mass at Jean-Jacques park in Port-au-Prince on on Saturday.
updated 1/23/2010 4:20:26 PM ET 2010-01-23T21:20:26

Mourners gathered near the ruins of Port-au-Prince's shattered cathedral Saturday to pay final respects to the capital's archbishop and a vicar in a somber ceremony that doubled as a symbolic funeral for all the dead.

More than 1,000 people, many weeping and clutching handkerchiefs, joined dignitaries including President Rene Preval, New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan and the Vatican's ambassador to Haiti, Archbishop Bernadito Cleopas Auza, as classical music wafted over a small park.

"I came here to pay my respects to all the dead from the earthquake, and to see them have a funeral," said Esther Belizaire, 51, whose cousin is among the dead.

Two closed white caskets covered with flowers sat side-by-side in the park, one holding the body of Msgr. Joseph Serge Miot, the archbishop of Port-au-Prince, the other the remains of vicar Charles Benoit.

Nepthalie Miot, a niece of the archbishop, choking back tears, said: "He was a very compassionate person. He tried to help the poor."

The 7.0-magnitude quake killed an estimated 200,000 people, according to Haitian government figures cited by the European Commission. The U.N. said Saturday the government had preliminarily confirmed 111,481 bodies, but that figure does not account for corpses buried by relatives.

Countless dead remain buried in thousands of collapsed and toppled buildings in Port-au-Prince, while as many as 200,000 have fled the city of 2 million, the U.S. Agency for International Development reported.

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