South Asia

India buries unidentified Mangalore plane crash victims

A relative holds a photograph of Sujata Survase, a member of the cabin crew
Image caption Some relatives have not been able to perform the last rites

Twelve unidentified bodies of the Air India Express flight which crashed in southern India last month have been given a mass burial, officials say.

They say that soon after the crash - which killed 158 people in Mangalore - the bodies of some of the dead may have been wrongly claimed by relatives.

Officials say that they have no DNA matches for the 12 deceased.

The Air India Express Boeing 737 overshot Mangalore airport's hilltop runway and crashed into a valley.

It immediately burst into flames - only eight passengers survived.

The bodies were so badly burnt that identifying them was almost impossible for the families.

Officials say they conducted DNA tests on 22 dead people - and the 12 bodies did not match the samples given by victims' families.

'Tragedy'

"They may have been claimed by relatives of other victims earlier," K Swaminathan, spokesperson for Air India told the BBC.

Image caption The Boeing 737 crash was the first in India in nearly 10 years

"After consulting with relatives who could not get the bodies [of their loved ones] officials decided for a mass burial in the presence of those families. It was conducted in Mangalore on 2 June."

Meanwhile the Mumbai Mirror newspaper has reported that one of the bodies mistakenly given to the wrong family was that of flight attendant Sujata Survase.

Her father, Siddarth, told the daily: "I was informed by the Air India authorities that by mistake somebody else has taken away my daughter's body and cremated it.

"How can I come to terms with this tragedy when I didn't even perform her last rites?"

Air India Express is the low-cost arm of the national carrier, Air India.

India's air safety record has been good over the past decade, a time when there has been a rapid increase in the number of private airlines in the country.

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