The bodies of 87 victims of Saturday's plane crash in Mangalore have been identified and handed over to their relatives, while a forensic team arrived from Hyderabad to conduct DNA tests to identify bodies charred beyond recognition, officials said on Sunday.
The number of bodies to be identified with DNA tests is still not clear as relatives and friends of the victims continued their efforts to try and recognise their near and dear ones through the night at the government Wenlock hospital mortuary in Mangalore, hospital sources said.
All eight survivors of the crash, being treated at various hospitals in the city, were out of danger. Most of them had suffered cuts, bruises or minor burn injuries.
Heart-rending scenes were witnessed at Wenlock as grieving relatives and friends had to go through the traumatic experience of looking at scores of badly burnt bodies to identify them.
Among the 158 dead were 19 children and four infants.
An Air India spokesman in Mumbai said the process of identifying and handing over bodies was under way. He added that Air India has assigned a member of the Special Assistance Team and Angels of Air India team to each of the survivors and families of victims to assist them in all possible ways.
The airline will also operate additional special flights to ferry families of the victims to Mangalore, the spokesman said.
The IX 812 Dubai-Mangalore flight overshot the runway while landing at the Bajpe airport, about 20 km from Mangalore, early Saturday and caught fire after plunging about 300 metres off a cliff.
All passengers were Indians, many returning home from Dubai where they worked.