Page last updated at 11:56 GMT, Monday, 25 August 2008 12:56 UK

Madrid remains 'may stay unknown'

Part of a jet engine beloning to the Spanair MD 82 aircraft  that crashed in Madrid is recovered
Parts of the destroyed plane are still being recovered

Some of the victims of last week's plane crash in Madrid may never be identified, the government says.

Only 86 of the 154 people killed in the disaster have been identified. DNA analysis is being used to identify some bodies burned beyond recognition.

Spain's Interior Minister Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba said the process was taking longer than expected.

But he said Spain wanted to ensure that the bodies were properly identified before being released for burial.

"Will anybody remain unidentified? I can't say at this moment but the possibility exists," he said during an interview with news radio Cadena Ser.

"We are working day and night, and well, but since the process started it has become more difficult than we expected due to the bad state of some of the DNA samples," he said.

"If the sample can be matched to someone close like a brother or father it is easy but when there are only distant family members available it becomes much more complicated," he added.

One of the children known to have died was adopted, for example.

Identification is a sensitive issue in Spain, says the BBC's correspondent there, Steve Kingstone, following an embarrassing mix-up five years ago, in the wake of a military plane crash.

Then, 62 Spanish peacekeepers lost their lives, and some victims' families were given the wrong bodies to bury.

Eighteen survivors of Wednesday's crash remain in hospital.

Two are in a very serious condition - including a 44-year-old woman said to be in an irreversible coma.

The woman's eight-year-old son also survived the crash. He is being treated at a different hospital for a broken leg.

Engines under scrutiny

The Spanish government has promised a full investigation into the crash, which is the country's worst air accident in 25 years.

Spanair flight JK 5022, bound for the Canary Islands, crashed just after take-off last Wednesday.

Sources close to the investigation, quoted by the newspaper El Pais, say the plane may have lacked sufficient engine power during take-off.

Video footage showed the plane travelled much further along the runway than normal before getting airborne, the paper reported.

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