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Remains Of Indonesia Plane-Crash Victims Delivered For Identification

  • RFE/RL

The wreckage of the Russian Superjet 100 litters an Indonesian mountainside.

The wreckage of the Russian Superjet 100 litters an Indonesian mountainside.

The first body bags containing the remains of victims of a Russian plane crash in Indonesia have been delivered to the capital, Jakarta, for identification.

Officials said clear weather had finally allowed the remains of some of the victims to be recovered from the remote mountainside crash site and placed in 16 body bags.

Agung Laksono, Indonesia's coordinating minister for public welfare, said search and rescue squads were doing their best to recover and identify all the victims.

"There are several bags that contained body parts from different passengers," he said. "Police will work on them and identify them."

All 45 passengers onboard the Russian-made Superjet 100 are presumed dead after the plane crashed into Mount Salak, a 2,200-meter mountain south of Jakarta during a demonstration flight on May 9.

Most of the passengers were Indonesian, although eight Russians, two Italians, a French citizen, and an American were also onboard.

In Jakarta, dozens of Indonesians gathered outside the identification unit at a local police hospital to watch as the body bags were unloaded from an ambulance.

One man said he was waiting for news of his wife.

"My wife, Maria Marcela, was on board. My gut feeling says her body is inside the bag, but I will wait for the official announcement," he said.

The cause of the crash is still unknown, although a Russian fact-finding committee said it had opened a probe into possible safety-standard violations.

During the demonstration flight, the aircraft descended from 3,000 meters to 1,800 meters before slamming into the mountain.

More than 1,000 people and seven helicopters have been deployed to aid in search and recovery efforts. The flight data recorder has yet to be recovered.

The plane crash came as the manufacturer, a joint venture between Russia's Sukhoi aviation company and Italy's Alenia Aeronautical, was conducting a series of test flights in an attempt to lure potential purchasers.

The Superjet 100, which is designed to have markedly lower operating costs than other commercial jets its size, made its first commercial flight last year.

The crash of the first civilian aircraft to be built in post-Soviet Russia is seen as a heavy blow to the Russian aviation industry.

Based on reporting by Reuters, AFP, and AP