Vienna commemorates pandemic victims with a ‘sea of lights’

Health

People hold candles, in memory of those who have died in Austria of coronavirus, in Vienna, Sunday, Dec. 19, 2021. Tens of thousands of Vienna residents turned out Sunday night to participate in a “sea of lights” commemorating the more than 13,000 Austrians who have died in the coronavirus pandemic. The event, which was supported by dozens of community and civil society organizations, drew more than 30,000 people, according to Austrian media. (AP Photo/Michael Gruber)

VIENNA (AP) — Tens of thousands of Vienna residents turned out Sunday night to participate in a “sea of lights” commemoration for the more than 13,000 Austrians who have died in the coronavirus pandemic.

The event, supported by dozens of civil society organizations, drew more than 30,000 people, according to Austrian media.

They organized a chain of more than 13,000 candles stretching around Vienna’s central ring road, one for each person who died in Austria, and observed a moment of silence.

The commemoration was also intended to show solidarity with health care workers following several weeks of anti-coronavirus demonstrations in the Austrian capital. On Saturday, tens of thousands again turned out to protest the government’s pandemic-related restrictions, as well as a planned national vaccine mandate.

“We are simply people from civil society who want to send a signal,” organizer Daniel Landau told the Austrian newspaper Kurier.

In addition to those who attended in person, many more — including Austrian President Alexander van der Bellen — shared photos of candles lit in their windows on social media with the hashtag #YesWeCare.

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Follow all AP stories on the pandemic at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic.

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