Macedonia plane disaster kills 115

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The Independent Online
OHRID, Macedonia - Rescue workers were struggling yesterday to recover the bodies of 115 people killed when their plane crashed in the south-western mountains. Officials said only one person on board the charter flight survived.

'I will never forget the smell of burnt bodies on the hillside,' said Lazo Jovanovski, a villager who helped at the crash site. The plane's fuselage was still ablaze when police and rescuers reached it. Bodies, luggage and debris were scattered about the area.

The Soviet-made Yak-42 jet, flying for the Macedonian carrier Avioimpex, went down at 11:45pm on Saturday about seven kilometres (four miles) east of Ohrid airport. The plane, leased from the Russian carrier Aeroflot, was on a charter flight from Geneva to Skopje, the Macedonian capital. It had to divert to Ohrid, 110km (65 miles) to the south-west, because of a blizzard.

Officials said 80 per cent of the 108 passengers were Yugoslavs, mostly ethnic Albanians. The rest were believed to be Macedonians. The four flight crew were Russians.

'We suppose the pilot lost control and deviated from standard landing procedure', said Goran Pavlovski, head of the inquiry into the crash.

The sole survivor, identified only as Slobodan, a Serb, had surgery to stop bleeding in his left lung. The surgeon treating him, Dimitar Smilevski, said he was 'still on the danger list' because of bleeding in the brain. A nurse at the scene said 70 bodies were intact. The rest were charred or dismembered and would be difficult to identify. Four children under 10 were among the victims.

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