Police Begin Grim Work of Identifying Air Crash Victims

During their first day of work at the site of last week's Black Sea air disaster, a team of Israel Police investigators were able to positively identify six of the 14 bodies retrieved from the wreckage. The Russian authorities are continuing their efforts to locate additional bodies.

Family members had previously identified seven of the victims, but the police require scientific evidence to make determine final identification. The six victims identified by the police include four of the seven that had been tentatively identified and two bodies that had not previously been identified.

Before leaving for the Black Sea resort of Sochi, the Israeli police team collected materials from family members that could aid in the identification work. All together, files were prepared for 57 of the 66 Israelis who lost their lives when the plane crashed en route to Siberia last Thursday. Work is continuing on the files for the rest of the victims.

These files include dental and medical records, X-rays, finger prints taken from personal effects, updated photographs and descriptions provided by family members.

The slow work of identifying the bodies will continue this morning at a forensic institute in Sochi. Due to the severely damaged state of most of the bodies, Russian and Israeli police officials have agreed that family members will not be permitted to see the remains in some cases.

Israeli relatives who arrived in Sochi yesterday complained that the Russian authorities did not allow them to view the personal belongings retrieved from the wreckage. Itzik Kamari, whose daughter Adi was among the passengers on the plane, insisted: "I want to see these things. Perhaps I'll see something that belongs to my daughter ... Maybe I'll even get lucky and God will help me and my daughter's body will be lying before me. Then at least there will be grave to say kaddish and cry over."

Meanwhile, the investigation of the air disaster is continuing. Russian investigators helped to extract pieces of metal from the Black Sea that could help confirm the cause of the crash.