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Thousands gather in Santiago de Cuba as Fidel Castro nears end of final journey

Thousands have packed the public square in Santiago de Cuba Credit: Reuters

Tens of thousands of people have packed into a public square in Santiago de Cuba as late leader Fidel Castro nears the end of his final journey.

Cubans have lined the streets since Thursday as the ashes of the Communist leader were driven on a 600-mile journey across the island.

Now Castro's remains have reached their final destination, where they will be interred on Sunday near the final resting place of Cuba's independence hero Jose Marti.

On Saturday, tens of thousands of Cubans packed the public square in Santiago de Cuba in anticipation of the ceremony.

Fidel Castro's ashes have travelled roughly 600 miles Credit: Reuters

Dignitaries will join the final ceremony to bid farewell to the revolutionary leader, who ruled Cuba for 49 years.

The thundering comandante, who built a Soviet-sponsored Communist state 90 miles from the United States and survived a half century of US attempts to topple or kill him, died over a week ago aged 90.

Cubans have lined the streets as Castro's ashes passed by Credit: Reuters

Drawn in a trailer behind an olive green army jeep, Castro's ashes have passed thousands of Cubans along the way - with many chanting "I am Fidel!".

Volunteers also spruced up bridges and houses with fresh paint in Castro's honor.

Musicians have played at vigils by night, including one evening when his remains rested by the mausoleum containing the remains of his rebel friend Ernesto "Che" Guevara.

Castro's remains will be interred on Sunday Credit: Reuters