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Report Clothing and Dentral Charts to Help Identify Crash Victims

October 24, 1989

TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras (AP) _ Reports of the clothing and dental charts of people killed in the crash of a Honduran airliner were read on radio broadcasts Tuesday in an effort to help identify the charred remains of many victims.

A Boeing 727 of the TAN-SAHSA airline crashed into a mountain as it approached the Tegucigalpa airport Saturday and 131 of the 146 people aboard were killed. Morgue officials said Tuesday the bodies of 97 victims have been identified.

The grim effort to identify the others continued.

″Body number five, female, wearing blue jeans, gold cap on the third pre- molar,″ said a broadcast from the morgue by Radio HRN.

″Body number 10, male, 1.75 meters tall, green shirt, partial dentures in upper jaw,″ the report said.

″Body number 79, male, apparentlyfrom Costa Rica, blue pants, sweatshirt with the letter B. The body has no head.″

Hundreds of people fearing relatives or friends perished in crash have gone to the morgue and some have been able to assist in the identifications .

″The easy ones are identified first. It’s a slow process,″ said U.S. Embassy spokesman Terry Kneebone. He said 12 Americans are presumed dead, but he could not say which bodies had been identified because of privacy act considerations.

Three Americans, the pilot, co-pilot and two flight attendants were among the 15 survivors.

The pilot was severely injured and investigators have been unable to question him.

Co-pilot Reiniero Canales said in a radio interview Monday that the flight was normal unril ″suddenly we hit something. It was all so fast we didn’t have time to react.″ The jetliner was 1,800 feet below its assigned flight path when it crashed into a mountain, Cerro de Hule, about 6 miles south of the Tegucigalpa runway.

Some investigators were considering air turbulence as the cause, with two theories. One focused on an atmospheric phenomenon called a ″rolling wave″ that would create a violent downdraft and the other involved wind pressure created by a valley near the peak and a low pressure zone behind the peak.

″We haven’t definitively ruled anything out yet,″ said Barry Trotter, head of a U.S. National Transportation Safety Board team assisting the Honduran government.

Bodies of 23 of the 67 Nicaraguan victims were flown Tuesday to Managua. President Daniel Ortega and about 500 relatives and friends of the victims were at the airport.

The transfer had been planned for Monday but was delayed because of preparation of the bodies and a shortage of metal caskets in Honduras, according to Daniel Abud, a Nicaraguan Foreign Ministry official in Managua.

Ortega said the problems ″could have been overcome if there were a little more willingness″ on the part of Honduras.

Relations between Nicaragua and Honduras have been tense since Nicaragua’s left-wing Sandinistas came to power in 1979, overthrowing conservative President Anastasio Somoza.

Ortega said Honduran President Jose Azcona Hoyo had called him to offer condolences and apologize for the difficulties.

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