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Official starts to repatriate Australian bodies from Africa

06-22-2010 14:24 BJT

CANBERRA, June 22 (Xinhua) -- It could take weeks to repatriate the bodies of six Australian mining executives after rescuers found the wreckage of their crashed plane in a remote jungle in west Africa, Australia's media reported on Tuesday.

The entire board of Australia's Perth-based mining company Sundance Resources were among the 11 people killed when their twin turboprop CASA C212 plane crashed during a flight from Cameroon's capital Yaounde to Yangadou in Congo on Saturday.

Sundance strategic adviser and former chairman George Jones said a 10 km track will have to be carved out of the jungle to assist in recovery operations.

Diplomatic protocols required with the various African governments involved could further delay repatriation efforts.

"It could be as short as a week or two and it could possibly take considerably longer than that," Jones told the Seven Network on Tuesday.

Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith said the difficult recovery process would require patience from the victims' families.

"It will take longer than families would wish to repatriate the bodies," Smith told ABC Radio.

"Unfortunately we have to brace ourselves for a painstaking period."

Smith was confident there would be an exhaustive investigation of the crash although he noted the requirement for coordination and cooperation between Cameroon and Congo authorities "will have its own difficulties."

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