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Iran completes recovery of all 119 bodies from plane crash

Khorramabad, Feb 23, IRNA -- Iran on Friday completed retrieval of all 119 bodies of those killed aboard a Russian-made Tupolev-154 plane which crashed on jagged mountains near this western city on February 12.

The last bodies were transferred from the Sefid Kouh mountains on Friday evening, following 11 days of strenuous search and relief operations which were repeatedly hampered by snow and rain as well as hardly surmountable passes.

So far 100 victims, including one Spaniard, have been identified and handed over to their families, a head at the natural disasters department of the Lorestan province, Reza Niknam, told IRNA.

Three other Spanish nationals, engineers of the Fagor home appliances company who were travelling to Khorramabad on business, have not been identified yet.

Governor of Khorramabad, Mohammad Baharvand, said Saturday that the identities of the three have to be established only through genetic coding since "the cellular tissues of their bodies have been destroyed" in the crash.

He made the remarks as relatives of the victims, who have traveled to Iran, bid farewell at the foot of the Sefid Kouh to their lost ones.

Baharvand assured that related officials would take necessary measures to identify and return the bodies of the victims to their country of origin in the earliest.

Niknam said the identities of 22 victims have still remained unknown despite "ceaseless efforts" to identify them.

The plane, chartered by the Iran Air Tours, an affiliate of the national flag-carrier Iran Air, crashed on the mountains only a few minutes before landing at the Khorramabad airport. It was on a domestic flight.

The cause of the crash has still to be announced once the contents of the plane's "black box", containing conversations of the pilot are examined.

Shortly after the tragic incident, several MPs called for the resignation or dismissal of Iranian Transport Minister Ahmad Khorram as well as the Civil Aviation Organization head, Behzad Mazaheri. Some 150 MPs, in a letter to President Mohammad Khatami, also asked him to take necessary measures for the cause of the crash to be brought into light.

Iran Air Tours also announced that it would take away Tupolev aircraft from its fleet.

In May, a Russian-built Yak-40 plane on its way to northern Iran from Tehran crashed with 30 people on board, including the then roads and transport minister, Rahman Dadman.

... Payvand News - 2/23/02 ... --

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