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Last Updated: Friday, 20 January 2006, 14:03 GMT
Slovak plane crash leaves 42 dead
Debris from crash
A wife of one of the passengers received a call after the crash
Forty-two people died when a Slovakian military aircraft came down in a remote mountain area in northern Hungary.

Only one person survived when the Soviet-designed An-24 crashed near Telkibanya on the Slovak border.

The plane was carrying Slovak peacekeeping troops from Pristina in Kosovo to Kosice in Slovakia.

It crashed at about 1930 (1830 GMT) on Thursday. Originally the death toll was given as 44, but it was revised downwards by the Slovak authorities.

The heavily wooded mountainside where the plane came down and bitter winter temperatures contributed to the destruction and hampered rescue efforts, officials added.

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"It's minus 18 degrees Celsius here. The plane's fuselage is completely burnt out. It is absolutely inconceivable that there could be other survivors," said Hungarian chief police spokesman Laszlo Garamvolgyi.

We are trying to piece together the bodies of the victims which were scattered over a very large area - it's very grim
Hungarian interior ministry spokesman

The sole survivor - a Slovak first lieutenant - is now in hospital in Kosice, where a doctor said he was in a stable condition despite swelling to the brain. He was put into a medically-induced sleep.

His wife, Michaela Farkasova, told Slovak television that he had called her on his mobile phone shortly after the crash.

"He told me that the aircraft had crashed and was on fire and was somewhere in the forest. He told me that he was alive and to alert the rescue services and police. Then the line went dead."

Grim search

According to the Hungarian Disaster Management Agency, the plane sliced through the tops of trees before crashing.

It then caught fire and emergency crews battled to put out the blaze.

Helicopters were reportedly unable to reach the crash site, and wreckage and bodies were scattered over a wide area.

A spokesman for the Hungarian interior ministry, Tibor Dobson, said the aircraft burst into flames as it approached the border.

"We are trying to piece together the bodies of the victims which were scattered over a very large area," he said.

"It's very grim."

Slovakia has some 100 troops stationed in Kosovo as part of the Nato-led peacekeeping force.



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SEE ALSO:
EU considers key role in Kosovo
12 Dec 05 |  Europe
Country profile: Slovakia
11 Dec 05 |  Country profiles
Country profile: Hungary
09 Nov 05 |  Country profiles


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