Crash victims found and identified

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Norwegian defense officials announced Wednesday that all five of the officers on board a military aircraft that crashed in northern Sweden last month had been found and formally identified. A probe into the cause of the crash is continuing.

The search for crash wreckage continued under difficult conditions on the mountainside in northern Sweden. PHOTO: Forsvaret

The Hercules plane disappeared from radar on the afternoon of March 15 while on a flight from Evenes in the Norwegian county of Nordland to Kiruna in Sweden. It had been taking part in the NATO winter military exercise called Cold Response, but later was found to have crashed into a mountainside at Kebnekaise, west of Kiruna.

Emergency crews including police and highly trained members of Norway’s special forces have faced difficult conditions as they searched for both wreckage from the crash and its victims. Two of the victims were formally identified early last week, while forensic examination and DNA testing of the three others was completed on Tuesday.

“Our goal has been that the victims’ families should get their loved ones home,” the head of the Norrbotten Police’s indentification group, Urban Johansson, told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK).  “Now we finishing up our work at the crash site at Kebnekaise.”

A Norwegian military spokesman also said it was important that family members could receive official confirmation of the deaths of the crash victims. They included Captain Ståle Garberg, age 42 from Oslo; Captain Siw Robertsen, age 45 from Oslo; Captain Bjørn Yngvar Haug, age 40 from Ullensaker; Captain Steinar Utne, age 35 from Oslo; and Lt Colonel Truls Audun Ørpen, age 46 from Oslo.

Only around 20 percent of the large, 40-ton C-130J Hercules aircraft has been found so far, based on wreckage parts collected to date. The wreckage is being transported to a hangar in Kiruna, where the parts of the plane are systematically being washed and sorted by the Swedish accident investigation commission.

Around 70 persons are now involved in the work that’s part of the crash investigation. Swedish officials were to decide later this week how much longer the search for wreckage would continue.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund

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