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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Missing Ukrainian Plane Found With No Survivors




ATHENS, Greece -- Greek crews working in snow sifted through the burnt wreckage of a Ukrainian airliner Sunday to recover the bodies of 70 people killed in a crash near Mount Olympus.


"We are now in the second phase, the most painful one, of collecting bodies and having relatives identify them," Macedonia and Thrace Minister Filippos Petsalnikos told reporters.


Heavy fog and snow, which had delayed the discovery of the crash site for three days, slowed down efforts by military and medical units to collect the 62 passengers and eight crew members who died in Wednesday's crash, he added.


The snow-covered slope near the remote northern Greek village of Ano Milia was strewn with bodies, passports and Christmas-wrapped toys when commandos reached the crashed Russian-built Yakovlev Yak-42 airliner Saturday.


"The aircraft disintegrated upon impact and slid into a gorge," Deputy Defense Minister Dimitris Apostolakis told reporters at Salonika airport.


The plane vanished from radar screens during its second approach to Salonika airport after a flight from Kiev via Odessa with mainly Ukrainian and Greek passengers, including four children and four babies.


The airliner belonged to state carrier Air Ukraine but was being operated by Aerosvit Airlines, a Ukrainian-Israeli concern, because their own Boeing 737-200 had a technical problem.


Transport Minister Tasos Mandelis said after listening to a tape recording of a dialogue between Salonika's control tower and the plane that it appeared the pilot had become disoriented.


Greek officials said a special committee was set up to investigate the accident. Crews sifting through wreckage were looking for the plane's black box that recorded the pilot's communications.


"The plane would have cleared the top had it flown about 100 meters higher," the commander of operations, Lieutenant General Dimitris Dimou, said.


The sliding plane shaved snow-covered oaks and beech trees before crashing in a gorge and bursting into flames at 1,400 meters, where Mount Olympus meets the Pieria Mountains. Compounding the tragedy, a Greek air force C-130 transport plane participating in the search crashed near Athens on Saturday, killing five crew.