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Argentine survivors of New York attack: Love will unite us with fallen friends

Four Argentine survivors of a deadly terrorist attack in New York City this week have said they always will carry the pain of seeing five of their friends killed.

Juan Pablo Trevisan, Ariel Benvenuto, Guillermo Banchini and Ivan Brajkovic gathered at the Argentine Consulate in New York and Banchini, speaking for the group, read an emotional statement that brought tears to the eyes of consulate officials.

"Friendship has a profound significance for Argentinians," Mr Banchini said. "We were brought here because of a friendship that was born when we were young, and that always accompanied us. We will forever mourn our friends. Love brought us here, and love will continue to unite us".

The four survivors belonged to a group of 10 who came to the city last week to celebrate the 30th anniversary of their graduation.

Five of them died after an Uzbek citizen steered a rented van onto a bike path and sped south toward the World Trade Centre, striking cyclists and pedestrians, killing eight.

Sayfullo Saipov, 29, was arraigned on Wednesday on terrorism charges.

The Argentinian group bore the brunt of the fatalities who were named as Hernan Ferrucchi, Alejandro Damian Pagnucco, Hernan Diego Mendoza, Ariel Erlij and Diego Enrique Angelini.

Another one, Martin Marro, who lives near Boston, Massachusetts , was seriously injured although he is expected to make a full recovery.

The four survivors hugged after Mr Banchini read the statement, and applause erupted in the room. Deputy Consul General Eduardo Almirantearena had tears in his eyes.

"What has the world become? How could someone think, plan and execute a plan like this? We can't get our heads around it," Mr Banchini said.

He called for love "ruling over hate and life prevailing over death."

"We have to return home now. We have to accompany the inconsolable families of our friends," he said. "Let us go with our pain to our homes."

AP

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