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Argentina plane crash criticism

Wednesday, May 29th 2002 - 21:00 UTC
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Argentina has been criticised in the British Press for failure to clear up the mystery of a 1947 plane crash in the Andes in which British people were killed.

In a report headlined "Andes plane tragedy relatives left in limbo", the Mail on Sunday declares: "In a case of shocking complacency and broken promises, the Argentine authorities are no nearer to identifying the remains of the eight Britons whose bodies were recovered from the slopes of Mount Tupungato after lying buried for more than five decades?. The grieving families have not been able to bury the bodies of their loved ones. The remains have been in a mortuary in Buenos Aires since they were taken from the mountain. They had been scattered when the aeroplane, owned by British South American Airways, crashed in a heavy storm on a flight from Buenos Aires to Santiago".

The crash sight was accidentally discovered by climbers in January, 2000. The newspaper says: "The Argentine authorities pledged to identify the bodies but despite taking skin, bone and tissue samples from relatives of the 11 victims, they have failed to match them to the nine strains of DNA they found in the body parts. The families are therefore left in limbo, unable to lay the tragedy to rest".

Some have been given conflicting information. Others have heard nothing. Three passengers were British and there was a British crew of five, captained by a former wartime Royal Air Force pilot, Reginald Cook, aged 29.

The newspaper says there are fears that the Argentines may have overstretched themselves in offering to carry out complex DNA tests or are too embarrassed to admit that the DNA gleaned from the body parts was not strong enough.

The Foreign Office in London says the British Embassy in Buenos Aires is liaising with the Argentine authorities. The first tests were inconclusive and the results of more tests are awaited.

Harold Briley, London

Categories: Falkland Islands.

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