A postcard of the Eiffel Tower, a child's miniature soccer ball, a woman's makeup kit. Little else was left of the 53 lives lost aboard a Boeing 727 that slammed into Bogota's eastern mountain range moments after takeoff.
Amid smoldering flesh and chunks of twisted steel strewn across a half-mile of mountainside just above the capital, rescue work-ers and police worked through the rain Tuesday to recover bodies from Monday's crash.Colombian investigators climbed the ridge at dawn Tuesday after a five-hour pre-dawn search of the crash site by 15 rescuers with 10 dogs yielded no signs of life.
Air France Flight 422, using a plane leased from an Ecuadorean company and flown by an Ecuadorean crew, was en route to Ecuador's capital, Quito, when it failed to make a sharp turn south and plowed into the jagged peak.
Most of those aboard were Ecuadorean, but passengers also included six French, four Danish and six Italian citizens, including two on their honeymoon. Thirty-nine passengers began their trip in Paris and had changed planes in Bogota.
On Monday, ambulances and police cars with red-and-blue emergency lights whirring navigated up a narrow dirt path, turned to mud by a late-afternoon rain. Hundreds of rescue workers, wearing rubber gloves and with handkerchiefs covering their mouths, fished identity cards, passports and credit cards from the debris.
They had to contend with hundreds of curious onlookers who climbed the ridge that rises 1,600 feet above Bogota. At least two people were arrested for looting.
"There's nothing left, nothing," said Sergio Rodriguez, a 15-year-old who lives near the crash site. "I ran when I saw the plane crash, but there's nobody (alive)."
Rescue workers who found three pairs of teddy bear-patterned infant pajamas searched for a baby, but to no avail. Other debris floated from the tops of eucalyptus trees.
After finding just five intact bodies, authorities called off the search at dusk, when drizzle turned to downpour, extinguishing the last flames of the wreckage. They had no hope of finding survivors.
"There are hands, feet and legs. Most of what we have recovered are very small body parts," said a police officer at the scene, Fernando Molino. Some bodies were so maimed that the only indication of a victim's sex were painted fingernails.
Marco Emilio Erazo, a spokesman for TAME, the Ecuadorean airline that leased the plane to Air France, said the pilots were retired members of the Ecuadorean air force.