Crash dead listed as survivors angers villagers

Crash dead listed as survivors angers villagers

Daily Telegraph April 13th 1973 By CHRISTOPHER BRAMWELL

THE sorrow of relatives and friends of victims of the Swiss air disaster turned to anger yesterday when it was discovered that four people named as survivors on lists passed to the village of Abridge were in fact dead.

Relatives of the four vic-tims flew to Basel on Wednesday in the hope of finding them alive. Villagers in Cheddar and Congresbury attacked Invicta Airlines, which had prepared the lists, and the Swiss authorities for what they described as criminal and callous ” attitudes. Complaints about the method of informing relatives about those involved in the Vanguard crash were raised at Abridge last night by Mr Wiggin, Conservative MP for Weston- super-Mare.

Untold suffering

He said that in some cases there had been a grave danger of people thinking their relatives were alive when in fact they were dead. Speaking at a Press Conference, Mr Wiggin said the delay over the production of list of the dead “has caused untold suffering.” Mr Wiggin said he had already asked Parliament for an investigation into the delays and why information had been in-accurate. He added that there had been interim lists containing four names over which confusion was caused. An amended list issued yesterday named 39 survivors.

Agony prolonged

Mr Wiggin, who lives in Ax- bridge, said yesterday that Invicta Airlines was asked for a passenger list immediately after the crash, but it did not arrive until Wednesday night. He said: “They seemed reluctant to part with it.? The lack of correct information prolonged the agony of many anxious relatives and friends. Only the names of survivors had been passed to the people in Axbridge who have been manning the information centre for the villagers. Mr Wiggin said that access to the scene of the crash and the distribution of the injured to three different hospitals had caused dimculties in obtaining accurate information and it was harder to identify women’s bodies because they didn’t carry wallets or diaries in pockets. He said: “Delay took place at the other end. But I can’t say whose fault it was. I don’t think anyone can deny that there has been a communication problem.”

Survivors return

Mr Jeremy Kennard, Invicta’s airport services manager and son of Mr Hugh Kennard, joint managing director, was at Lyneham, Wilts, yesterday to meet an aircraft bringing home 161 relatives and survivors from Basel. He said the delay in releasing full casualty list had been caused by the difficulty in identifying the bodies. He added that the crash was Invicta’s first fatal accident. Mr Richard Harrill, a member of the Mendip Round Table which has been running the information centre, said yesterday: “It’s clear a mistake has been made, but I’m not in fact certain that a mistake has caused any suffering.’

£1,000 payments An insurance company agreed yesterday to speed payment to 68 people, mainly from Axbridge and Cheddar, who were covered by a group travel policy taken out by their tour organiser, A payment of £1,000 per victim is expected to be made to relatives today. It is not known whether the other victims were covered. Their travel arrangements were handled by a different company which did not take out a group insurance. Social and welfare workers and local peope are still trying to determine exactly how many children are motherless as a result of the tragedy. They are compiling lists which will itemise ages and numbers of dependants and their immediate and long term needs.

Mr Dennis Gill, 48, finally heard at 5 p.m. yesterday that members of his family on the plane were dead. His nephew, Mr Jim Gill, said: ” My uncle believed that his wife or daughter had survived. He was told that one of them was on the survivors list, but he wasn’t sure which one. He has been under sedation since the crash. This wait has been agonising. It’s been too long.”

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