Salam Asks for France's Help in Identifying Lebanese Victims' Bodies in Algeria Plane Tragedy

The cabinet followed-up Saturday on the doomed Algerian plane's tragedy, as Prime Minister Tammam Salam contacted French President Francois Hollande to request help in identifying the bodies of the 19 Lebanese victims.

The state-run National News Agency said Salam telephoned Hollande on Saturday to offer his condolences over the death of tens of French nationals in the ill-fated plane.

"Salam requested France's help in identifying the bodies of the Lebanese victims before transferring them to Lebanon,” the NNA added.

The French leader also offered his condolences to the Premier, assuring his country's “full readiness to ease” the transfer of Lebanese passengers' bodies.

Hollande noted that victims' bodies will be transferred in the coming days, after the release of the DNA tests' results.

Salam also discussed the cabinet's efforts in this regard with Speaker Nabih Berri, and both statesmen agreed on the necessity to speed up the travel process of a Lebanese delegation to Mali, where the Algerian plane crashed, to follow-up on the investigation and launch the required procedures to identify the bodies.

Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil, meanwhile, contacted his French counterpart Laurent Fabius and shared with him procedures taken by the ministry in this respect.

Bassil thanked the Malian FM on his country's efforts in facilitating the access of emergency units to the crash site, and telephoned officials in Burkina Faso and Algeria over the matter.

Officials assured Bassil that is was unlikely that the crash was caused by a terrorist act, remarking that it might have been due to a technical failure or to a sand storm.

Experts had taken DNA samples from the Lebanese victims' families before leaving Beirut, in order to compare them with human remains found at the crash site in Mali.

France bore the brunt of the disaster, with some 54 French citizens among the overall death toll of between 116 and 118, according to unexplained conflicting figures given by the carrier and French authorities.

Travelers from Burkina Faso, Algeria, Spain, Canada, Germany and Luxembourg also died in the crash.

French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said weather conditions appeared to be the most likely cause of the accident -- the worst air tragedy for French nationals since the crash of the Air France A330 from Rio de Janeiro to Paris in June 2009.

But Hollande insisted that no potential cause for the accident was being ruled out.

The wreckage of the McDonnell Douglas 83 plane, operated by Spanish charter firm Swiftair on behalf of Air Algerie, was located 50 kilometers (31 miles) north of the Burkina Faso border in Mali's Gossi region.


Copyright © 2012 All Rights Reserved.