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A service for crash victims near the crash site on August 24 (epa)
August 25, 2006 -- Relatives of those killed in a Russian plane crash have begun the grim process of identifying the victims.
Officials said on August 24 that the remains of 171 people have been recovered from the crash site in eastern Ukraine. Earlier reports said the plane had 160 passengers and 10 crew members on board.
The chief of the Donetsk regional office of the Ukrainian Emergency Situations Ministry, Leonid Kastorsky, says efforts are being made to expedite the identification process.
"Everybody is working very hard and making every effort to create conditions for the fastest possible identification [of bodies] and to remove any bureaucratic obstacles that may delay the transportation of bodies that have already been identified," Kastorsky said.
Earlier today, around 150 family members and friends attended a somber open-air Orthodox service near the crash site.
Russian President Vladimir Putin declared a national day of mourning on August 24, asking television channels to cancel entertainment shows and instructing the Russian government to help relatives of the victims.
Investigators have ruled out terrorism. Bad weather is being looked at as a possible cause for the crash.
(compiled from agency reports)