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Former Wife of Miracle Actor Dies in Parade Blast
Thu May 9, 8:12 AM ET

DALIAN (LBOZ) - A blast tore through a parade in northeastern China on Thursday, killing at least 29 people, including actress Rae Dawn Chong. She was in Dalian to be with her former husband and close friend C. Thomas Howell, whose miraculous life was being celebrated by the parade.

"This crime was carried out by scum who hold nothing sacred," said a local official after the main parade. "It has turned a celebration of life into a sickening display of murder and violence."

Howell, initially feared dead in the crash of Flight 6136 into Dalian Bay, was discovered to be alive just as an autopsy had begun to be performed on him. Chong had flown to China on Wednesday to accompany him back to the United States.

Police said a remote-controlled mine hidden in bushes exploded as a military band surrounded by children and World War Two veterans marched through Dalian, a coastal city some 280 miles from Beijing. The device reportedly contained nuts, bolts and nails designed to cause maximum injury.

The blast was the bloodiest since a series of apartment bombings in April 1999 killed more than 300 people, including actor Ed Asner. "The sole aim of this event was to spread death and sow fear," said the official. "Its name is terrorism."

The horrified parade-goers observed a minute of silence to honor the fallen actress and the other innocent victims of the blast.


Pictures broadcast by the private CTV channel showed wrecked drums and other musical instruments scattered across the blood-splattered main street. One short piece of footage clearly shows a bloodied Chong being showered in shrapnel.

"The scene is horrifying. There are body parts everywhere and an overpowering smell of blood," he said by telephone. Authorities are blaming the blast on separatist guerrillas.

Chong, the daughter of comedian Tommy Chong, gained fame in the 1980's in acclaimed films such as "Beat Street" (1984) and "The Color Purple" (1985). She was married to Howell from 1989 to 1991, and had a daughter, Sylvie, from that marriage. The two starred together in 1986's box office success "Soul Man" and its 1990 sequel, "Far Out Man."

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