Miss World showdown in London in shadow of murder

Miss World showdown in London in shadow of murder

LONDON - Beauty queens from across the globe have descended on London for Sunday's Miss World 2014 final, a competition rocked by the murder of Miss Honduras.

Some 121 contestants from Albania to Zimbabwe are taking part in the pageant, but there will be no representative from Honduras following the fatal shooting of finalist Maria Jose Alvarado.

The bodies of the 19-year-old national title-holder and her 23-year-old sister Sofia Trinidad were found buried on a remote riverbank near the northwestern city of Santa Barbara on the day Maria Jose was due to fly to London.

Tears were shed when the Miss World contestants attended a special remembrance service in London.

They held candles and said prayers in their own languages in front of a framed photograph of Alvarado.

"We are devastated by this terrible loss of two young women, who were so full of life," said Miss World chairwoman Julia Morley.

The new Miss World will travel to crime-plagued Honduras to build a school in their hometown that will be named in their honour, the contest's organisers announced.

Police in Honduras accuse Sofia's boyfriend of shooting the sisters in a fit of jealousy after seeing Sofia dancing with another man at a party.

Three other people have appeared in court alongside him for allegedly helping him bury the bodies.

Oxford University challenge

The contestants arrived in London on November 20 for the 64th annual final, being held at the Excel exhibition centre.

The remembrance service was part of a series of events in the run-up to the televised extravaganza.

The contenders visited prestigious Oxford University to address the Oxford Union debating hall - where some of the world's finest minds have honed their ideas.

"Miss World is not a celebrity; she is an ambassador," Miss United States Elizabeth Safrit told students.

"She tells women all around the world that it's OK to have an opinion. She makes changes happen. She identifies problems and she finds solutions." Students threw questions at them, including if they thought there could be such a competition with no beauty element at all.

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