LIMA – The bodies of the 14 people who died when their helicopter crashed into a mountain in southern Peru were recovered and taken to the city of Cuzco for identification.
The aircraft disappeared late Wednesday afternoon while flying from the southeastern jungle region of Madre de Dios to the neighboring region of Cuzco.
On board were eight Koreans, a Dutchman, a Swede, a Czech and three Peruvians, including the pilot and co-pilot.
National Police patrols found 13 of the bodies on Sunday morning and hours later came upon the last of the victims.
“After finding the 14 bodies, we’ll be heading for the morgue in Cuzco. This has been a tough job that took the emergency management unit for the high mountains several days to complete,” police Gen. Hector Dulanto told the official Andina news agency.
The regional police commander said that the bodies were brought down from Mama Rosa mountain, a peak of nearly 5,000 meters (16,393 feet), where they found the Helicusco company helicopter completely destroyed.
Prosecutor Gilberto Cuba said that only one of the victims is recognizable, so blown apart were the others when the aircraft exploded.
Cuba said that some of the victims’ clothing was collected while the bodies were being recovered, which could help in the work of identifying them.
The South Korean ambassador to Peru, Park Hee-kwon, told media that relatives of his slain countrymen are flying from Seoul and will arrive in the Andean nation in the coming hours.
On Saturday rescue patrols found the wreckage of the chopper on a steep, rocky cliff high up Mama Rosa mountain.
Photographs published by the press Sunday show that the helicopter broke into several pieces after hitting the mountain and apparently caught fire.
“(The helicopter) hit the wall of a mountain, that’s where the remains are,” air force Col. Angel Rios told Andina.
Recovery operations were resumed Sunday after being suspended the previous day because of bad weather in the area, where temperatures drop below zero at this time of year and strong winds blast the mountains. EFE