The stench of death hung over Charki Dadri
At least 245 bodies were recovered from
the wreckage of the two aircraft which collided in mid-air over Haryana
on Tuesday evening.
Dr R S Garg, the civil surgeon at the Bhiwani district hospital,
said nearly 80 per cent of the bodies recovered so far from
the Saudi Airlines Boeing 747 were in a state which could facilitate
identification. There were 289 passengers and 23 crew members
aboard the aircraft.
At Bhagwoi village, ten km from Dadri, where the debris of the Kazakhstan
Airlines Iluyshin-76 lay scattered, some 25 bodies were extricated last night. Cranes were requisitioned to remove the remaining 14
bodies trapped in the wreckage. The plane was carrying 29 passengers
and ten crew members.
At least 351 people were killed when the two aircraft collided mid-air about
60 kilometres south-west of Delhi near Charki Dadri in Haryana.
H S Khola, director general of civil aviation, and Yogesh Chandra, federal secretary,
civil aviation, said Civil Aviation Minister Chand Mahal Ibrahim has ordered a judicial
probe into the accident. The inquiry will be conducted by a judge of the Delhi high court.
Chandra said besides the operations
conducted by the district administrations of Bhiwani, Hissar and Mohindergarh
the army and Indian Air Force helicopters also engaged in rescue operations. Thousands of
people from the villages nearby gathered at the site to witness the operations.
Khola said the Saudia wreckage was sighted at
Tikan and Kheri Sinsanwal villages in Haryana.
Airports Authority of India chairman Ranjan Chatterjee meanwhile
denied any negligence on the part of the Air Traffic Control staff.
Khola said the exact cause of the collision would be known
only after the decoding of the black box -- the cockpit voice recorder.
A control room to provide information on the collision has been
set up at the Indira Gandhi International Airport. Its telephone
numbers are 91-11-5484052 and 91-11-5481219.
Khola said this was the first time two international aircraft had collided in Indian
skies. Fifteen years ago, he said two IAF trainer planes had collided at
The Kazakh plane was descending at the
height of 15,000 feet and the Saudia plane was climbing at 14,000 feet
when the collision took place. A difference of 1,000 feet between
the two aircraft is normal practice, Khola added.
As many as 231 of the passengers aboard the Saudia Boeing-
747 were Indians, according to airport officials.
Apart from the 18 crew members, the other passengers included
nine Nepalese, three Pakistanis, two US nationals and one each
from Bangladesh, Saudi Arabia and the United Kingdom.
Fortytwo passengers were in transit and their nationalities are
being ascertained, the officials said.
The airport presented a scene of
chaos as relatives of the victims
thronged the emergency counters where the list of the dead had been put up.
Many wailed through the night after they read the names of the ones they had lost.
Most of the victims's relatives felt that going
to the site, 80 km away from Delhi, would be futile, and prepared themselves
for a long wait.
The AAI has sealed the tapes and logbooks of the Delhi Air Traffic Control
which would be studied along with the black boxes, AAI chairman Chatterjee said.
Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda on Wednesday afternoon visited
the area where the aircraft's wreckage lay.
He spent more than an hour in Charki Dadri, surveying the rescue operations.