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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Crash Victims' Relatives View Plane Wreckage

OSLO -- Anguished relatives of victims in Norway's worst air crash got their first glimpse Tuesday of the scattered wreckage of a Russian airliner that slammed into a mountain peak, killing all 141 aboard. The Tupolev 154 plane from Moscow smashed into Opera Mountain on Thursday, 10 kilometers short of airport on Spitsbergen, the main island of the Svalbard archipelago.


As of Tuesday, more than 100 bodies of Russian and Ukrainian miners and their families had been recovered in a joint Norwegian-Russia effort after Norway's worst air disaster.


Villagers from Russian settlements, allowed on the Norwegian islands under a 1920 treaty, had angrily blamed Norwegian officials for delays in bringing their loved ones down from the remote, roadless mountain.


After seeing the mangled wreckage, some appeared to grasp why it had taken nearly three days to recover the first bodies. Part of the wreckage is strewn across the mountaintop, while parts slid down the steep mountain in an avalanche.


Before going aloft in a Russia helicopter for a brief flight over the mountain, Vasily Gukov, whose wife and two sons died in the crash, condemned the search effort as "criminal."


When he and the 15 others returned, Gukov told the Norwegian news agency that he was satisfied that searchers were doing the best they could under the icy, and dangerous conditions.


The Svalbard governor's office said 117 body bags had been transported off the mountain as of Tuesday afternoon, but noted that the bodies were so dismembered that it unclear how many people had actually been found.


Despite recovery of the plane's cockpit voice recorder and flight data recorder, it was still not clear why the plane veered off course and slammed into the mountain.