German team starts to identify Nepal crash victims

10th October 2008, Comments 0 comments

The victims of Wednesday's crash at Lukla airport, about 150 kilometers northeast of Kathmandu, included 12 German tourists.

Kathmandu -- A three-member German expert team began examining the bodies of 18 people who were killed in air crash in northern Nepal Wednesday, officials said, just hours after arriving in Kathmandu from Germany.

Nepalese police official said more tests were necessary and that a nine-member team was expected to check dental records of the victims. No other details were given.

The victims of Wednesday's crash at Lukla airport, about 150 kilometers northeast of Kathmandu, included 12 German tourists.

The tourists were on their way to the Everest region for trekking.

Earlier Thursday, Nepalese officials said they had accepted German offers of help to identify the victims.

"The German government on Wednesday asked Nepal to allow its forensic team to help identify the victims," Home Ministry spokesman Mod Raj Dotel said. "We have accepted their request."

Michael Schott, an executive of the Hauser Exkursionen travel agency in Munich, Germany, said on NTV news television that he had been advised by Germany's BKA federal police agency that two German police officers were due to arrive in Kathmandu. Schott said he was told a third officer based in New Delhi was also flying to Nepal.

German police said a newly married couple from the city of Braunschweig on a honeymoon trip had been on the ill-fated plane.

Wolfgang Klages of the Braunschweig police said genetic samples were being sent to Nepal to identify them.

Most of the victims' bodies were burned beyond recognition and Nepal's lack of forensic experts and facilities has added to the difficulties in identifying the crash victims.

"So far, we have not been able to identify the foreign tourists," Dotel said. "It becomes extremely difficult if family members are not there to make identification."

The hospital where the bodies were being kept said it would release the bodies to the families once they were identified.

The hospital said three Nepali nationals killed in the crash were identified on Wednesday and their bodies handed over to their families.

Four Nepalese, including a co-pilot and flight attendant, and two Australians were also among those killed in the crash.

Meanwhile, the lone survivor, the pilot of the Canadian-built Twin Otter plane belonging to Yeti Airlines, was recovering in hospital and was reported to be out of danger.

Rescue workers told local media in Kathmandu that Captain Surendra Kumar Kunwar had enquired about the fate of the passengers and other crew members when he was being airlifted to hospital.

The plane crashed while landing at Lukla airport, which is perched on a hillside 2,757 meters above sea level.

A German accident investigator was also dispatched to Nepal to act as an observer in the investigation of the crash, the German Federal Bureau of Aircraft Accidents Investigation said Thursday.


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