Liverpool: thousands attend Hillsborough memorial service

 Thousands of people took part in an interchurch memorial service today, for the 96 Liverpool football fans killed in the Hillsborough disaster 20 years ago.

The supporters were crushed to death on 15 April 1989 during Liverpool's FA Cup semi-final tie with Nottingham Forest at the stadium in Sheffield.

As victims' families took their places, the crowd of up to 25,000 people gave them a huge round of applause. Liverpool goalkeeper Pepe Reina, the team's manager Rafa Benitez, coach Sammy Lee and players Jamie Carragher, Steven Gerrard and Everton's manager, David Moyes, and Kenny Dalglish were also greeted with applause and cheers.

The stadium then fell silent as the Hillsborough death toll was read out and a candle was lit for each victim. The city's rival fans, Liverpool and Everton supporters, stood side by side, arms around each other in shared grief.

The service started at 2.45pm and a two-minute silence was held at 3.06pm, the exact time the game was abandoned two decades ago. At the end of the silence, church bells from around the city rang out 96 times.

Opening the service, the Anglican Bishop of Liverpool, the Rt Rev James Jones, said: "On this day, the 20th anniversary of the tragedy at Hillsborough, which broke the heart but not the spirit of our community, Her Majesty the Queen has asked me to say that her thoughts and prayers are with us and all those affected by the tragedy. For many here today it seems still like yesterday. Those we lost always in our minds. Never a day passes without a thought of what their tomorrow might have been, without that longing for justice for their sake as well as for ours."

Some demonstrators carried placards appealing for a new investigation to discover why the tragedy took place. A single inquest was held covering all the victims, recording a verdict of accidental death but the familes of those who died say they want to know why the tragedy happened.

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