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Swiss offer to help Ukrainian crash victims

Rescue workers carrying the remains of bodies after Saturday's crash. Switzerland has offered to fly survivors to Swiss hospitals. Keystone

Switzerland has offered medical aid to the victims of Saturday's fighter jet crash at a Ukrainian air show that left at least 83 people dead.

This content was published on July 28, 2002 - 21:23

Ukraine welcomed the offer of assistance, but said there was no need at present to take up Switzerland's offer of hospital places for many of the badly burnt victims of the disaster.

The Swiss president, Kaspar Villiger, has also sent the Ukrainian president, Leonid Kuchma, a letter expressing his and the Swiss people's "deep sympathy" for victims and their families.

Mending a damaged image

The gesture, which was announced by the Swiss foreign ministry on Sunday, comes after a month during which the government was heavily criticised for failing to participate in early memorial services held for victims of the Lake Constance aircraft disaster.

On July 1, two jets collided in Swiss controlled air space above the lake, killing 71 people - most of them Russian children.

Although the cause of the crash remains the subject of several investigations, the disaster was widely blamed on the Swiss air traffic controller, Skyguide, which was responsible for the two aircraft when they slammed together at over 11,000 metres.

Tensions over the crash were heightened when Villiger cancelled a trip to Russia to attend a funeral service amid fears for his safety.

Although the government was eager to avoid signalling possible Swiss blame for the accident, its handling of the matter drew fire from commentators - both from within Switzerland and abroad - who accused the country's leadership of being distant and uncaring.

Air-borne aid

Saturday's crash, at an air show on the outskirts of the western Ukrainian city of Lviv, happened after a low flying jet clipped the ground and sheared through a crowd of spectators.

Upon impact, the jet exploded engulfing dozens of people in flames.

Alongside those killed, over 110 people were injured, many of them critically.

The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation has offered the services of Swiss Air-Rescue aircraft to transport victims to Swiss hospitals.

swissinfo with agencies

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