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Rescuers retrieve air crash remains

Clearer weather finally allowed Indonesian helicopters to land and retrieve remains of the 45 people aboard a Russian-made plane that crashed into a volcano in Indonesia during a demonstration flight.

Investigators still have found no sign of the "black box" recorder that might explain why the new Sukhoi Superjet-100 slammed into Mount Salak about halfway through a 50-minute flight intended to woo potential Indonesian airline buyers on Wednesday.

Relatives of the victims burst into tears as they watched men unload 10 black body bags from a military helicopter at a Jakarta air base.

Search teams who climbed the dormant volcano's near-vertical slopes have been struggling to retrieve remains of the victims, and helicopters were unable to land because of thick fog shrouding the mountain about 50 miles south west of Jakarta, the capital.

All those aboard the flight are now presumed dead and the plane's shredded wreckage is scattered around the dense jungle.

The teams including 15 professional climbers, have filled 16 body bags with the remains they have found and were continuing to search along the steep cliffs and in a nearby ravine near the wreckage, search and rescue agency spokesman Gagah Prakoso said.

Col Anton Chastila, a police forensic doctor in Jakarta, said his team had received the remains, adding it was unclear how many victims they represented because none of the bodies was intact. About 60 forensic experts will sort through the body parts piece by piece and take DNA samples to identify them.

Wednesday's demonstration flight was mostly carrying representatives from Indonesian airlines, which are rapidly expanding to serve a burgeoning middle class in the sprawling archipelago where air travel between islands is a quicker alternative to ferries.

All but 10 of the 45 people on board the plane were potential Indonesian buyers and journalists, said Sunaryo, who goes by one name, from PT Trimarga Rekatama, the company that helped organise the event. The others were Russians, all from Sukhoi companies, an American consultant with a local airline and a Frenchman with aircraft engine-maker Snecma.

The Superjet is Russia's first new model of passenger jet since the fall of the Soviet Union two decades ago and was intended to help resurrect its aerospace industry.


From Belfast Telegraph