A woman walks aimlessly through the information center at Ramstein U.S. Air Force Base calling out "Hans," the name of her missing husband.
In a hospital in nearby Kaiserslautern, the mother of a young child screams and faints when she realizes the boy's face has been burned away.At an emergency burn center near Mannheim, a mother weeps quietly and says, "It would be better if our daughter does not survive."
These are scenes from the aftermath of the Ramstein air show a week ago, when three Italian jets collided during a stunt and one crashed into a huge crowd of spectators and exploded.
Fifty-one people died, 15 remain unaccounted for and more than 160 are hospitalized.
Flags flew at half staff all over West Germany Saturday, and 1,500 mourners attended a memorial service in Ramstein. The service in the wreath-filled Church of St. Nicholas was broadcast live on national television and attended by senior West German and Italian government ministers.
The service was led by the Catholic Bishop of Speyer, Anton Schlembach, and the president of the Protestant church in the Palatinate, Werner Schramm.
"We are going to learn from these events to make sure that such a tragedy never happens again," U.S. Ambassador Richard Burt said.
Within an hour after last Sunday's crash, volunteers set up a casualty information center in the base theater to help locate the missing.
"People were crying and in a panic," recalled Airman Stoney Glover, a volunteer who was working at the center shortly after the disaster.
"They were shaking and looking desperately to find their relatives," Glover said. A few hours after the crash, "one woman just wandered through the hall in a daze, calling out the name of a missing relative," he said.
About 300,000 people attended the show and watched in horror as three Italian jets collided during a high-speed stunt, sending one flaming aircraft plunging into the crowd.
Hundreds of spectators rushed to the information center immediately after the crash, Glover said.
"By then the area at the crash site had been sealed off," Glover said. "They had no where else to turn to."
Glover, of Orlando, Fla., said after word of the accident spread, the center was flooded with calls from worried relatives in the United States.
"People were calling in hysterics, trying to find out the whereabouts of sons or daughters stationed here," Glover said.
As volunteers at the center worked frantically to reunite families and friends, relatives of the severely injured faced grim emergency ward scenes.
"Relatives who arrived after the accident were confronted with sights that no one can prepare for," said Werner Overbeck, head of surgery at Kaiserslautern City Hospital, where 98 victims were treated.
"Many patients had suffered burns that made them unrecognizable," Overbeck said.
One young mother, after visiting her daughter at the burn unit in a hospital near Mannheim said: "It is difficult for parents to say, but it would be better if our daughter does not survive."
Two Americans were among the dead. Most of the dead and hundreds who were injured at the air show were West Germans.
Alfred Witt of Trier found out Friday his 16-year-old son Mario was dead after discovering the boy's housekey among long rows of items found on the bodies of victims who had been so mutilated they could not be identified, the Bild newspaper reported.
Overbeck and other specialists said many of the most severely burned probably will die of complications over the weeks to come.