BUCHAREST, April 6 -- Seven of the 11 airline crew who died March 31 together with 49 passengers in Romania's worst air crash were buried Thursday in a Bucharest military graveyard. Wooden coffins bearing the charred remains of the pilots and flight attendants were lowered into graves bought by the Tarom Romanian airline, which had pledged to cover all funeral expenses.
The ceremony, attended by more than 500 people, followed a three-day search for remains in the jetliner's wreckage. Since Monday, the families of the 60 dead -- including 32 Belgians and three Americans -- have been trying to identify the remains of their loved ones. Debris from the crash and the victims fell over a wide area. Wednesday evening, families and forensic experts were able to identify only 32 of the victims. 'I have got her purse...and that is about all we put in the coffin,' said Livia Pop, the twin sister of flight attendant Lucretia Pop, who left behind an 11-year-old son. The twin-engine Airbus A-300 took off last Friday from Otopeni airport near Bucharest during a snowstorm and crashed a few minutes later near a railway station at Balotesti, 15 miles (22 km) north of Bucharest. Though a report Wednesday by the Romanian Investigation Commission insisted that both flight preparation and takeoff had been performed 'according to the rules,' Romanian newspapers said the crash had been preceded by a mid-air fuel explosion. Sorin Stoicescu, chief inspector of the Romanian Inspection Commission, said the voice recorder found in the debris indicated no technical malfunction, but cautioned that the evidence would have to be compared with the flight data recorder, now being decoded in a British lab.