Cause of aid plane disaster unknown

YESTERDAY peace-keeping troops in Kosovo recovered the bodies of all 24 victims, including three British aid workers, and the "black box" flight recorder from the wreckage of a UN-chartered aircraft that crashed into a mountain near the town of Mitrovica.

Investigators from Britain, France and Italy will begin their investigation of the accident today. Last night the commander of the Nato-led K-For peace-keepers, General Klaus Reinhardt, said there was still no indication of what caused the crash, although the weather had been extremely foggy. He said the aircraft, which was carrying 21 passengers and three crew, failed to clear the mountain by only a few yards.

Officials said it was too early to rule out any possibility but there were no indications of foul play. French and Italian investigators have already begun examining the aircraft's "black box". Catherine Bertini of the World Food Programme said the victims were WFP staff, UN officials, aid workers and journalists. There were no survivors.

The British agency Tearfund confirmed yesterday that two of its volunteers were among the victims. The charity identified the men as Nicholas Evens, 34, a builder from Birmingham, and Kevin Lay, 36, from Winchester, who was on his way to work as a construction supervisor.

Mr Evens, a former Royal Engineer, is survived by his wife, Caren, 31; daughter, Lauren, six; and foster son, Ian, 18. He had already served six weeks with Tearfund in Kosovo and was returning for another stint.

Mr Lay, who has left a wife, Lynn, 36, and two children, Jack, 11, and Fiona, nine, had previously worked for the charity in Burundi.

The family of the third aid worker, Andrea Curry, from Armagh city, Northern Ireland, said they were shattered by her death. Miss Curry, 23, a civil engineer, was on her way to Kosovo to work with the Irish-based agency Goal.