France asks Lebanon to DNA test Lebanese Air Algerie victims in Paris
A tribute for one of the Lebanese victims of the Air Algerie crash at Ouagadougou Airport in Mali (Sia Kambou /AFP).
The Lebanese delegation currently present in Mali to follow-up on the Algerian plane's tragedy is preparing for examining the bodies of the Lebanese passengers who were on board, as the results of the DNA tests are expected to take at least two more weeks to be revealed.
"The Lebanese delegation met with concerned French authorities who assured that looking for victims' bodies will take up to two weeks,” LBCI television reported on Monday.
LBCI explained that the job of the delegation is divided into a security part and a technical part, adding that DNA expert Dr. Fouad Ayoub will visit the crash site along with other foreign experts to follow-up on retrieving human remains.
Meanwhile, Higher Defense Council chief General Mohammed Kheir, who is in Mali to follow-up on the tragedy, noted that the plane crashed in a deserted region, underscoring the difficulty of retrieving the victims' bodies.
"What we care about is avoiding that the condition of the bodies of Lebanese passengers changes, and this is why we have to wait for two weeks,” Kheir told LBCI, adding also that the technical team will head with two military officers to transfer the human remains found on site.
France had asked for Lebanon's permission to transfer the Lebanese passengers' bodies to Paris to conduct the necessary DNA tests, and compare them with samples taken from their families.
Meanwhile, Lebanese officials asked French authorities to allow Ayoub to take part in the DNA testing procedures.
The wreckage of the McDonnell Douglas 83 plane, operated by Spanish charter firm Swiftair on behalf of Air Algerie, was located 50 kilometers (31 miles) north of the Burkina Faso border in Mali's Gossi region.
France bore the brunt of the disaster, with some 54 French citizens among the overall death toll of between 116 and 118, according to unexplained conflicting figures given by the carrier and French authorities.
Travelers from Burkina Faso, Algeria, Spain, Canada, Germany and Luxembourg also died in the crash.
The two black box flight recorders of the jet arrived in Paris from Mali on Monday to help investigators identify the causes of the crash.
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius revealed also on Monday that the pilots of the Air Algerie had been asked to change route then to turn back before all contact was lost.
"What we know for sure is that the weather was bad that night,” he said.
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