Rescuers find body parts

2012-03-18 09:08

Stockholm - Police called off the search for survivors of a plane crash on Saturday after discovering body parts on the site where the Norwegian military cargo aircraft slammed into Sweden's highest mountain.

There were five people - all Norwegians - on the C-130 when it crashed into Mount Kebnekaise on Thursday during an international military exercise. Parts of the wreckage were found scattered across two glaciers early on Saturday, and in the afternoon police announced they had also found remains of the crew members.

Superintendent Borje Ohman said police are confident that "all five have died."

The aircraft disappeared from radar screens on Thursday afternoon as it crossed a mountain range in northern Sweden on a flight from Evenes, on Norway's Arctic coast, to the Swedish city of Kiruna.

The plane is believed to have flown straight into the western wall of Kebnekaise, hurling debris over the peak onto a glacier on the other side. In a sign of the devastating impact, the largest pieces found were the size of a sheet of paper, Ohman said, adding that the sleeve of a jacket also had been found.

Poor visibility

The cause of the crash was under investigation, but bad weather was reported in the area at the time.

The plane was participating in a Norwegian-led military exercise with 16 000 soldiers from 14 countries. Rescue helicopters and military aircraft taking part in the drill searched the mountainous area about 80km west of Kiruna, but were hampered by poor visibility brought on by low clouds, snow and strong winds.

Kebnekaise lies about 150km north of the Arctic Circle. Its highest peak reaches more than 2 100m above sea level.

The Norwegian Armed Forces identified the crew as lieutenant colonel Truls Oerpen, 46; captain  Staale Garberg, 42; captain Bjoern Yngvar Haug, 40; captain Steinar Utne, 35; and captain Siw Robertsen, 45.