Government Approves Aid to Plane Crash Victims’ Families

YEREVAN (Combined Sources)–Armenia’s Government allocated Thursday 129 million drams ($290,000) in financial assistance to the families of all Armenian nationals killed in Wednesday’s plane crash in southern Russia.

Minister for Local Government Hovik Abrahamian said the money will fully cover the cost of the transportation of the victims’ bodies to Armenia and the funeral expenses of their bereaved relatives.

A plane carrying 26 bodies arrived at the airport in Yerevan on Friday after an initial delay–apparently due to a lack of coffins.

Abrahamian said each of the 85 families will receive 1.5 million drams ($3,400) in cash from the state in addition to $20,000 compensations promised by Armavia Airlines–operators of the ill-fated flight.

"Also–some businessmen wanted the government to open a special bank account so that they can provide financial assistance to the families of the dead," he told reporters. "We accepted the proposal."

The account (90 00 13 01 70 26) was opened Friday in the treasury of the Armenian Finance and Economy Ministry.

Abrahamian also said that families of the more than 20 ethnic Armenian victims that had Russian passports will get similar assistance from the Russian Government.

Meanwhile–grieving relatives in Russia cast flowers into the Black Sea on Friday at the spot where the jet plunged into the waters.

Nearby–dozens of vessels and helicopters continued efforts to recover from the sea the black box flight recorders that might help establish why the plane crashed.

A signal from one of the black was detected at a depth of 680 meters where the rescuers found a great number of debris of the plane.

Until the black boxes are found–investigators are blaming the crash on bad weather.

Russia–whose investigators are being helped by experts from France–is seeking assistance from other foreign countries to raise the black boxes since its Black Sea fleet is not fully equipped for the task.

A bathyscaphe submersible vehicle would have to be sent down to the site to ascertain whether the signals that have been picked up are really coming from a section of the plane.

On board the plane were 85 Armenian citizens–26 Russia’s–one Georgian and one Ukrainian–according to a list published at Yerevan airport. Six children are thought to be among the 113 killed in the crash.

The plane disappeared from radar screens at 2:15 AM on Wednesday (2215 GMT Tuesday) as it attempted a second landing at Adler airport near Sochi–Armenian and Russian officials said. The pilot had begun returning to Yerevan after aborting a first landing attempt–but wheeled round again after being informed that heavy rains had cleared.

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