Plane Crash in Macedonia Kills 115; 1 Survivor

From Associated Press

Rescue workers struggled Sunday to recover the charred remains of 115 people killed when their plane crashed in the rugged, snowy mountains of southwestern Macedonia.

Only one person aboard the Avioimpex charter flight survived the crash late Saturday night, officials said. A U.N. relief worker from war-torn Bosnia-Herzegovina was among those killed.

Villagers, police and airport workers found the fuselage still ablaze when they reached the crash site. Bodies, luggage and debris from the aircraft were scattered about the hillside.

Policeman Mladen Dimovski described the wreckage as "a virtual torch."

"It was hard to reach the spot, let alone put out the flames," he said.

The Soviet-made Yak 42 had flown over the Ohrid airport once late Saturday and was making a second attempt to land when it went down about four miles east of the airport.

The plane, leased from the Russian carrier Aeroflot, was on a charter flight from Geneva to the Macedonian capital, Skopje, but had to divert to Ohrid, 65 miles to the southwest, because of a blizzard at Skopje airport.

Goran Pavlovski, head of the government commission investigating the crash, said the pilot apparently lost control of the plane, despite good visibility and favorable landing conditions.

Officials said 80% of the 108 passengers were Yugoslav citizens, most of them ethnic Albanians.

A French field officer from the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees was among the dead. Pierre Ollier, who was in his mid-20s, was headed to a new assignment in Skopje after working in Bosnia, refugee agency spokeswoman Sylvana Foa said in Geneva.

The rest were believed to be Macedonian, the Belgrade-based Yugoslav news agency Tanjug reported.

The four members of the flight crew were Russian and the four cabin crew members were Macedonian.

The sole survivor, a Serb, underwent surgery to stop bleeding in his left lung. He was listed in critical condition.

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