Helios Airways air crash - Communications Minister- Chief of Police
Nicosia, Aug 15 (CNA) -- Most victims of Sunday's air crash, near Athens, were Cypriots, the captain was German and there were some Greek nationals on board as well, a press conference heard here today.
Communications and Works Minister Haris Thrasou and Chief of Police Tasos Panayiotou gave details about the efforts made so far to complete the passenger list, which was given to the public today, 24 hours after Helios flight HCY 522 to Prague, via Athens, crashed killing all 121 people on board, including 22 children.
Panayiotou stressed that police had to corroborate all the information Helios Airways had given them with regard to the passenger list, before any public announcement was made.
He said that police had to confirm that all 121 passengers and crew had actually boarded the fatal flight, a time consuming process for which tickets and boarding passes had to be first found and then checked.
''Police teams worked all night to help complete this arduous task and get full details to ensure that no mistakes are made,'' he said.
The Chief of Police said that 12 tickets were bought in Greece and so far the owners of these tickets have not been located and subsequently their next of kin not notified.
He said police officers flew to Greece on Sunday to help Greek authorities collect and identify the bodies.
More than 30 bodies can be identified and authorities think they can be flown back to Cyprus, he added.
He said 118 bodies of the 121 passengers and crew have been located at the scene of the crash.
Thrassou said the passenger list was completed in the early hours of today, after combined efforts here and in Greece by the police.
''We had to complete the list the airline had given us and corroborate the information in it. In addition we had to notify the next of kin of the victims before going public,'' he said.
Responding to questions, Thrassou said all aircraft are checked regularly for any mechanical failure but explained that it is not possible to carry out checks on each aircraft every time it flies.
''All aircraft have their data and documents and every so many kilometers they undergo stringent maintenance checks,'' he added.
''Each airline is responsible to make sure that its fleet is air worthy. This aircraft was air worthy and it had been given the all clear after some problems were identified and repaired back in December,'' he said, replying to press questions about the air worthiness of the Boeing 737 that crashed near Athens at noon on Sunday.