No sign of survivors after Afghan crash

May 24, 2010 12:00 am

, KABUL, May 24 – There is still no sign of any survivors from a plane crash in Afghanistan, a week after the Pamir Airways turboprop aircraft came down with 44 people on board, the defence ministry said Monday.

"There are no signs of any possible survivor from the plane crash," Mohammad Zahir Azimi, spokesman for the ministry, told AFP.

"There isn\’t even one body intact. Only two bodies are almost in body shape and the rest are bits and pieces, which makes the identification process challenging," said Azimi.

The ageing Pamir Airways plane came down in bad weather last Monday during a scheduled flight to Kabul from the northern province of Kunduz. It crashed into a snow covered mountainside 20 kilometres (12 miles) from Kabul.

The wreckage of the Antonov 24 turboprop was located in the Surkh-e-Parsa area of the Shakar Darah mountains, at around 13,500 feet (4,100 metres).

The recovery operation was hampered by harsh weather, with rescuers having to climb two hours to reach the crash site.

The authorities believe almost all remains have now been collected and transferred to the Afghan military hospital in the capital.

"Yesterday was the last day of the search operation," said Nangialai Qalatwal, spokesman for the transport and civil aviation ministry.

"We believe almost all remains of bodies were collected, but we will continue the search today just to be cautious," he told AFP.

Identifying the remains is another challenge for the government in Afghanistan, which cannot perform DNA tests.

"Forensic and pathology experts are trying to identify the remains and match them with identification tips given by their families. As last resort we may have to ask assistance of another country to help with DNA tests," Azimi said.

Afghanistan will send the black box, which was found on Saturday, to Russia to find out the cause of the crash because Afghan authorities lack the technology, said Qalatwal.

According to the passenger manifest seen by AFP, six of those on board were foreigners and the rest Afghans.

The British embassy said three Britons were on the plane and the US State Department said there was one American.


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