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Bodies Recovered In Italy Crash

Rescue crews tried Tuesday to recover the last bodies trapped in the wreckage of a SAS airliner that collided with a business jet and a building a day earlier, killing 118 people in Italy's worst aviation disaster.

By Tuesday morning, 106 bodies had been found and 12 were trapped in the wreckage, said Alessandra Tripodi, spokeswoman for the Milan Prefect. Eight bodies were trapped inside the airliner and the four others were of airport workers inside the building.

Milan's Linate airport, where the accident occurred Monday morning, was closed at least until 6 p.m. Tuesday, airport officials said.

The SAS MD-87 bound for Copenhagen with 104 passengers, six crew members and a full tank of fuel was accelerating for takeoff on Linate's only runway when the accident occurred in an early morning fog.

A twin-engine Cessna jet with four people aboard suddenly taxied onto the takeoff runway.

The SAS airliner, traveling at about 200 mph, hit the Cessna, careened off the runway from the impact and plowed into a baggage handling depot in a fiery crash.

The roof of the building collapsed after the plane hit a cement beam, making access to the fuselage and cabin of the jetliner difficult.

The Cessna was destroyed. All four bodies — the two German pilots and two Italian businessmen — have been recovered.

The Italian government said the accident was likely caused by "human error" compounded by poor visibility due to heavy morning fog.

The ground radar, which can track aircraft on runaways, was not working. All commercial and private airlines that use Linate were told Oct. 1 that the radar wasn't operational.

In such circumstances, all aircraft are prohibited from crossing the runway, according to the Milan branch of the Airline Operator Committee, an international body that groups together airlines at individual airports. Aircraft must instead circle around the runway.

The Cessna appeared to have crossed the SAS airliner's path.

Fifty-six of the SAS victims were Italians, 20 were Swedes, 16 were Danes, four were Finns and two others were foreigners living in Denmark, officials said. The nationalities of the others were still being determined.

Tripodi said that only 33 bodies have been identified. They were taken to two cemeteries in Milan.

It was Italy's worst aviation disaster, surpassing a 1972 accident in which 115 people died when an Alitalia DC-8 crashed into a mountain near Palermo, Sicily.

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