119 bodies removed from Cypriot plane

The bodies of 119 of the 121 people on board the Cypriot airliner which crashed northeast of Athens as well as the plane's second flight recorder have been recovered, Greek national television Net reported on Monday.

Rescuers were concentrating their efforts on locating the bodies of the two remaining victims in the burned out wreckage of the aircraft at the bottom of a ravine, an AFP photographer at the scene reported. The search for bodies from Sunday's crash had gone on throughout the night under powerful arc lights., according to News24.

The interior ministry said identifiable bodies would be taken to an establishment at Goudi, near Athens city centre, where relatives could begin identifying them.

Remains which were not identifiable would be DNA tested at the morgue in the port of Pireus, where all the bodies had been taken initially, interior minister Prokopiis Pavlopoulos said after a meeting during the night with Cypriot officials.

Relatives of the victims were expected to arrive early on Monday on a specially-chartered flight.

The Helios Airways Boeing 737 was about to land at Athens airport for a stop-over on its journey from Larnaca in Cyprus to the Czech capital Prague when it crashed at Varnava, a largely uninhabited area 40km northeast of Athens.

Helios said most of the passengers were Cypriots, including a group of 48 youngsters on their way to Prague.

The cause of the crash remains unknown, although there have been harrowing accounts of an apparent crisis in the cockpit in the plane's last minutes with Greek officials saying one of the pilots was slumped in his seat.

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