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Nearly a Week After Crash, Man Finds Brother’s Body

November 18, 1996

NEW DELHI, India (AP) _ After working 18-hour shifts as a tailor in one of New Delhi’s sweatshops, Mohammad Hasmuddin was too tired to turn on his radio after work.

That’s how two days went by before he heard about the deadliest mid-air plane collision in history _ a Nov. 12 crash that killed 349 people, including his two brothers.

Saudi Arabian Airlines has been criticized for failing to notify relatives of those killed in the crash, but many of its passengers did not provide addresses and telephone numbers and their relatives live in remote, rural parts of India.

When Hasmuddin finally heard part of a news report Thursday morning, he thought the crash had occurred that day _ until a friend told him the Saudi passenger plane leaving New Delhi collided with an arriving Kazak cargo jet two days earlier.

Most of the dead were laborers returning to jobs in Arab countries, a common destination for poor Indians. Hasmuddin’s elder brothers, Mohammad Khadir and Mohammad Ali, were heading to work as leather cutters in a factory.

After hearing the news, Hasmuddin rode a bus to Charki Dadri, a farming village 60 miles southwest of the capital where the wreckage of the planes had landed. He gazed at hundreds of charred bodies arranged on blocks of ice in a makeshift morgue, but recognized no one.

``I went to the crash site several times. There was nothing,″ he said.

Hours after he reached Charki Dadri, officials buried or cremated 94 unclaimed bodies deemed too disfigured to be recognizable. Others that could be identified were sent to better morgues in New Delhi.

Hasmuddin found the body of one brother, Mohammad Khadir, at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in New Delhi on Monday.

``I can’t find the other body,″ he said, weeping. ``We searched both hospitals. Nothing. Not even a piece of cloth with which to remember my brother.″

In other developments Monday:

_Saudi Arabian Airlines, which has been criticized for its handling of compensation to victims, said it would speed up payments to relatives of passengers on the Saudi plane.

_Bekpulat Salimov, Kazakstan’s acting director of civil aviation, dismissed reports suggesting that the Kazakstan Airlines pilots did not know English well enough to understand instructions from air traffic controllers.

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