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Around 130 crash victims identified, 20 may need DNA tests

Mangalore/Mumbai, May 23 (Calcutta Tube) The bodies of around 130 victims of Saturday’s plane crash in Mangalore have been identified and were being handed over to their relatives after autopsies, while a forensic team arrived from Hyderabad to conduct DNA tests to identify bodies charred beyond recognition, officials said Sunday.

‘Around 130 bodies have been identified so far and will be handed over to the family members after post-mortem examination,’ R. Rajesh, deputy superintendent of police here, said.

‘We are hopeful another seven to eight bodies will be identified by the family members while DNA test may become necessary to identify around 20 victims,’ he added.

Sources at the the Government Wenlock Hospital in Mangalore said the number of bodies to be identified with DNA tests was still not clear as relatives and friends of the victims continued their efforts to try and recognise their near and dear ones at the hospital’s mortuary.

Heart-rending scenes were witnessed at the hospital as grieving relatives and friends had to go through the traumatic experience of looking at scores of badly burnt bodies to identify them, while doctors frantically conducted autopsies on the bodies as and when their identity was established.

With the number of identified bodies increasing by the hour, the staff were racing against time to complete the post-mortem examinations before the bodies started decomposing.

Most of the relatives of the victims were too numbed to talk and preferred to be left alone to grieve their loss privately and get over the trauma of seeing the charred remains of their loved ones.

‘We expect to complete the process of handing over the identified bodies to the relatives by late Sunday,’ Rajesh said.

Among the 158 dead were 19 children and four infants.

All eight survivors of the crash, being treated at various hospitals in the city, were out of danger. Most of them had suffered cuts, bruises or minor burn injuries.

An Air India spokesman in Mumbai said the process of identifying and handing over bodies was under way. He added that Air India has assigned a member of the Special Assistance Team and Angels of Air India team to each of the survivors and families of victims to assist them in all possible ways.

The airline will also operate additional special flights to ferry families of the victims to Mangalore, the spokesman said.

The IX 812 Dubai-Mangalore flight overshot the runway while landing at the Bajpe airport, about 20 km from Mangalore, early Saturday and caught fire after plunging about 300 metres off a cliff.

All passengers were Indians, many returning home from Dubai where they worked.

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