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94 Bodies From India Crash Quickly Buried or Cremated

November 15, 1996| From Associated Press

CHARKHI DADRI, India — The ashes of a Hindu funeral pyre and the prayers of Muslim and Christian clergy wafted into village skies at dusk Thursday in mass ceremonies for victims of a jet collision over India.

Authorities cremated or buried 94 of the 349 people killed in Tuesday's crash, saying they did not have the facilities to keep so many bodies much longer. The 94 bodies had not been identified.

Many of the victims were laborers headed to jobs in Saudi Arabia, and word of the accident was slow to reach their families in remote parts of rural India. Of the 317 bodies pulled from the wreckage by Thursday evening, only 113 had been claimed from the hospital at Charkhi Dadri, the accident site about 60 miles west of New Delhi. Other bodies were still being held.

The collision of a Saudi Arabian Airlines 747-100 passenger jet taking off from New Delhi and an arriving Kazakhstan Airlines Ilyushin IL-76 cargo plane was the deadliest midair collision in aviation history.

Officials had asked clerics to examine the corpses to try to determine which were Hindu, Muslim and Christian. They declined, agreeing instead to determine from the passenger lists what percentage of victims were likely to fall into each religion, and to divide the 94 sets of remains accordingly.

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