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Last Updated: Friday, 27 February, 2004, 23:55 GMT
Macedonia leader's body found
Wreckage from the president's plane
Wreckage is strewn across countryside
The body of Macedonian President Boris Trajkovski has been found at the site where his plane crashed, Bosnian and Macedonian officials have said.

Rescuers said none of the nine people on board the plane, which went missing on Thursday, survived the crash.

The plane came down in rain and fog in a heavily landmined mountainous area in the south of Bosnia-Hercegovina.

Mourners shocked by news of the crash held an overnight vigil in the Macedonian capital for Trajkovski.

A search plane spotted the plane's wreckage early on Friday morning shortly after rescue efforts were resumed, Bosnian authorities said.

Macedonian President Boris Trajkovski

"All the bodies are in the wreckage... There are no survivors," Bosnian civil aviation authority official Mirsad Teskerdzic said.

A flight data recorder is also said to have been found, which investigators hope will provide clues to the cause of the crash.

Flags flew at half-mast and Macedonia began three days of mourning on Friday, with Parliament Speaker Ljupco Jordanovski taking over as acting president.

Elections will have to be held within 40 days. They were due to be held this November and Trajkovski had been widely expected to stand again.

There is no obvious successor to Trajkovski and a bitter political fight can be expected within the main parties to select their candidates, correspondents say.

Old aircraft

A spokesman for US peacekeepers in Bosnia said the plane, a twin-engined Beechcraft, lost contact with air-traffic controllers near the border between Bosnia and Montenegro.

It was near the southern town of Stolac in Hercegovina, east of the Croatian port of Dubrovnik, when it vanished.

The plane was heading from the Macedonian capital, Skopje, for the town of Mostar, where Mr Trajkovski and a group of advisers were to attend an investment conference.

Macedonian officials said the aircraft was 25 years old, but attempts to scrap it were apparently halted by an outcry against politicians allegedly feathering their nests.

Shortly after the crash, security was tightened along the country's borders and at key state and army institutions.

The BBC's Nick Thorpe in Skopje says relations between Macedonia's majority population and the ethnic Albanian minority remain fragile, but most analysts say the peace process which ended the armed conflict in 2001 is strong enough to survive.

Tributes

As news of the crash spread, mourners lit candles in front of Trajkovski's office in Skopje.

Minority Albanians, Turks and Gorani have praised Mr Trajkovski as a president who stood up for the rights of all citizens.

There have also been many international tributes to the moderate leader.

Javier Solana, the European Union's foreign and security affairs chief has gone to Macedonia, pledging to stand by the country.

"President Trajkovski was a great man, a man of passion, a man who moved his country forward, not only the reforms but also to get it as close as possible to Europe," Mr Solana said in a statement.

Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern, whose country holds the EU's rotating presidency, described Trajkovski as having "contributed hugely to reconciliation in Macedonia" and as a strong supporter of Macedonia's ambition to become an EU member.




WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's Nick Thorpe
"The people of Macedonia are in mourning"



SEE ALSO:
Press eulogy for Trajkovski
27 Feb 04  |  Europe
Obituary: Boris Trajkovski
28 Feb 04  |  Europe
In pictures: Macedonia mourns
27 Feb 04  |  Photo Gallery
Tributes to Macedonian president
26 Feb 04  |  Europe
Timeline: Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia
26 Feb 04  |  Country profiles


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