ALL CRASH VICTIMS IDENTIFIED

By the end of last week, the government’s fears that it would not be possible to identify all the victims of the Spaniar crash proved to be unfounded. By Saturday, all 154 bodies had been identified and were being escorted by grieving families to their places of origin for burials that were attended by hundreds of people. The Spainair flight from Madrid to the Canary Islands crashed shortly after take-off on August 20th. Only 18 of 172 passengers and crew survived the accident. One of the air hostesses who survived told investigators a passenger who was a pilot remarked as the plane went down the runway that there was something wrong. The MD82 plane veered into a dry river bed just after take-off from Madrid’s Barajas airport. It then broke up and burst into flames, setting light to surrounding vegetation. Experts had to use DNA analysis, fingerprints and dental information to identify some of the badly burned bodies. Interior Minister Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba said last week that was the main reason why the identification process was taking longer than expected. Reporting to Parliament last Thursday, Development Minister Magdalena Alvarez said Spanair had considered switching the aircraft at the last minute after the flight had been delayed for about an hour because of a problem with an air temperature gauge. She said Spanair “told the airport control centre that it had decided to continue with the plane, which is the one that crashed”. A Spanair spokesman said the company had at no time considered changing planes but had merely told the control centre that another plane was available if necessary. According to the newspaper El Pais, sources close to the inquiry have said the plane may have lacked sufficient engine power during take-off. The paper reported that video footage showed the plane travelled much further along the runway than normal before getting airborne. The government has promised a full investigation into the crash, which is the country’s worst air accident in 25 years.

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