Friday, 14 August 2009 10:24 AM

PNG Terrain and Weather Slows Rescue

The thick jungles of the Owen Stanley ranges, near Kokoda in Papua New Guinea, and bad weather are slowing combined efforts to recover the bodies of 13 people, including nine Australians, killed in Papua New Guinea's worst air crash.

No one aboard the doomed Airlines PNG Twin Otter charter flight, including seven Victorians and two Queenslanders who had planned to walk the Kokoda Track, survived Tuesday's crash in the steep Owen Stanley ranges near Kokoda.

The Canberra Times reported that families of the nine Australians have so far opted to stay at home, as more emergency teams trek to the site, about 1.5km north of the village of Isurava at an altitude of 1680m.

Keith Sutherland, a relative of Bendigo man Peter Holliday, one of the victims, said the family had cancelled flights after learning there were no survivors.

Australia has thrown its full force behind PNG authorities' attempts to bring back the remains, only four bodies have so far been recovered from the crashed aircraft.

PNG's Civil Aviation Authority director Joseph Kintau said work still needed to be done at the site. ''The team has pieced together three bodies before lunch time,'' he said.

''Work is still going on. There is a lot of work going on at the site, but conditions are very difficult.''

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