Relatives and mourners attend a funeral service for Air India Express crash victims Naveen Walton Fernandes and his wife Savitha Philomene D'Souza at the Holy Cross Church in Mangalore on May 24, 2010. Investigators on May 24 widened the search for the "black box" data recorder of an Air India Express that crashed into a gorge killing 158 people, as the airline denied lax safety claims. AFP PHOTO/Dibyangshu SARKAR *** Local Caption ***  598449-01-08.jpg
Funeral services have been held throughout Mangalore for the victims of the Air India Express disaster.

First compensation payments made to Air India crash families

DUBAI // Commercial officers of Air India Express are closely co-ordinating with families seeking compensation for the death of their relatives in the plane crash in Mangalore, the airline's management said yesterday. A team carrying official documents on the victims and their families, most of whom were based in the UAE, arrived in Mangalore last week and began work to provide interim compensation.

"The procedures for providing compensations are going on effectively and we are co-ordinating with all the families in Mangalore," said Abhay Pathak, the regional manager for Air India Express in the Emirates. So far, cheques have been handed out to about 12 families. Many more are still to receive payments. Following the crash, large advertisements were taken out in UAE newspapers urging families of victims to apply for compensation. However, no one had approached the airline's Dubai office, Mr Pathak said.

"We have all systems in place to accept applications here as well," he said. Families are being offered one million rupees (Dh78,000) for each member who died in the crash as interim compensation. Other payments from insurance will be distributed later. Air India Express Flight 812 crashed after landing at Mangalore early on May 22, killing 158 people, including 19 children. The plane had flown from Dubai, carrying Indians who lived and worked in the UAE.

With the aircraft catching fire after impact, several bodies were charred beyond recognition. Investigative authorities in India had to conduct DNA tests to identify some victims. About 10 bodies have still not been identified. The disbursement of compensation claims was further complicated last week after it emerged that some passengers had been carrying fake passports. MK Lokesh, India's ambassador to the UAE, said 10 passports had been "tampered with".

Irregularities included false address and photographs that did not match the user. Indian consulate officials in Dubai said yesterday that the matter was being handled in New Delhi.

How to get there

Emirates ( flies directly to Hanoi, Vietnam, with fares starting from around Dh2,725 return, while Etihad ( fares cost about Dh2,213 return with a stop. Chuong is 25 kilometres south of Hanoi.

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