BODIES WERE EVERYWHERE

MADRID - One of the 19 survivors of a Spanish jetliner that crashed shortly after take-off, killing 153 people, recalled yesterday seeing bodies scattered everywhere as she escaped from the wreckage of the plane.

MADRID - One of the 19 survivors of a Spanish jetliner that crashed shortly after take-off, killing 153 people, recalled yesterday seeing bodies scattered everywhere as she escaped from the wreckage of the plane.

"I lifted my head and all I saw were scattered bodies," Ligia Palomino, a doctor, told Spain's top-selling daily newspaper El Pais.

Palomino said she was left semiconscious immediately after the Spanair plane slammed into a field beyond the runway on Wednesday, but woke up when one of the MD-82's fuel tanks exploded.

"I heard a horrible noise and I fled," she told the newspaper.

The Spanair flight was bound for the Canary Islands.

Four of the 19 injured from the disaster were in a "very serious" condition in hospital yesterday. Transport minister Magdalena Alvarez said it would take two days to identify the 153 dead.

Meanwhile, grieving relatives and medical staff yesterday tried to identify the badly burnt victims of the crash.

The investigation into the crash, Spain's worst aviation disaster since 1983, also got under way yesterday with officials seeking to find out why the jet aborted an initial take-off attempt shortly before the accident.

Relatives gathered at an improvised morgue in a convention centre to identify the bodies.

"I'd kill the bastard who did this," a driver shouted at Spanish state television cameras outside the convention centre.

Another passenger said: "Knowing the plane was bad, it took off with my seven-year-old niece."

Only 19 people of the 166 passengers and nine crew aboard survived.

Spanair listed 157 passengers and 10 unnamed crew, implying a total of 167 aboard. A Spanair spokesman said he could not account for the discrepancy.

A passenger list published by Spanair, which is owned by Scandinavian Airlines Systems (SAS), showed mostly Spanish names but officials said there were also passengers from Sweden, Germany, the Netherlands and Chile. Many were children, rescue officials said. - Sapa-AFP-Reuters

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