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Official Says Some Crash Victims’ Remains May Never Be Identified

April 4, 1986

MEXICO CITY (AP) _ Some of the 166 people killed in the worst air crash in Mexico’s history may never be identified because their remains are too badly mutilated, a medical service spokesman said.

Soldiers, Red Cross workers and others continued Thursday to search the site where the Mexicana airlines Boeing 727 crashed Monday, killing all aboard. Workers were looking for remains and passengers’ personal effects to aid in identifying the victims.

″They’re in the zone now and it’s very big, so this job is taking a long time,″ Mexicana spokesman Aulino Perez Martinez said.

The U.S. Embassy has said nine Americans were among the victims of the crash, but embassy spokesman Vince Hovanec said the remains of only one had been identified by Thursday afternoon - Peter Rivaud, 5.

Rivaud’s mother was Mexican and father was American, and the family lived in Mexico City, said Hovanec. His brother and parents also were listed on the passenger manifest, but Hovanec said their bodies had not been identified, and refused to release their names.

Flight 940 crashed into the 7,792-foot El Carbon mountain, about 90 miles northwest of Mexico City. The Boeing 727 went down about 15 minutes after takeoff from Mexico City, bound for Los Angeles with stops at the Pacific resorts of Puerto Vallarta and Mazatlan.

Of 160 bodies delivered to the government’s Forensic Medical Service, 143 had been identified and 138 were claimed by relatives as of Thursday night, said an official in the Attorney General’s Office who spoke on condition of anonymity.

″There are 17 bodies here that have not been officially identified because no family members have come to identify them,″ the official said.

Lazaro Hernandez, medical service spokesman, said, ″It’s difficult to know how many (victims) will be identified because many are parts of remains.″

The Excelsior news service reported Thursday night there are six plastic bags at the medical center containing parts of various bodies.

Investigators, including a team from Boeing, worked in groups studying the wreckage strewn over the mountain, Mexicana officials said.

Government and Mexicana officials have declined to speculate on what caused the crash. Airline officials say they need at least 30 to 45 days to analyze the cockpit voice recorder and flight data recorder before reaching any conclusions.

Mexicana said that shortly before the crash, the pilot radioed the plane was having pressure problems and requested permission to return to Mexico City.

Technicians also are studying the jet’s three engines, fuselage, fuel, weight distribution and weather conditions at the time of the crash.