TEARS, ANGER AS RELATIVES MOURN ARMENIAN AIR CRASH VICTIMS

Agence France Presse -- English
May 3, 2006 Wednesday 11:17 AM GMT

Stunned and in tears, the distraught families of passengers killed
when an Armenian plane plunged into the Black Sea battled Wednesday
to come to terms with the sudden loss of their loved ones.

In anguished scenes at Yerevan airport, many pinned the blame for the
crash in the early hours on Russian and Armenian aviation officials.

"My little boy was on there. He wasn't even 25 years old," said one
tearful mother among those at the Armenian capital's airport.

Most relatives had heard about the crash from watching television or
after being telephoned by other family members.

Many of the 113 people who died when the Armavia Airbus A320 crashed
as it tried to land near the Russian resort town of Sochi were making
family visits, reflecting the close ties between Russia and its small
Caucasus neighbour.

Russian and Armenian officials have both blamed the crash on poor
weather conditions, saying the pilot aborted a first attempted
landing because of rain and poor visibility before wheeling round
for a second attempt.

A teenage boy, Apet Tatevosyan, appeared barely able to grasp the
news as he waited in the airport hall, as emergency workers and
officials bustled.

"My mum was on the plane. She had gone to visit her sisters who she
hadn't seen in 15 years," he said. "We thought she was going to call
-- when she didn't, I was worried and called our relatives in Sochi
who told us the news."

His disbelief was echoed by Andranig Avetisyan, who also lost a
loved one.

"I lost my niece. She lives in Sochi and had come to visit us in
Yerevan," Avetisyan said.

A woman who said she her husband had been killed lashed out at the
state of the planes operated by the Armavia national carrier.

"They tell us that these planes are in a good state. And then what?

They call that a good state!," exclaimed the woman furiously.

The mother who had lost her son blamed Sochi's Adler airport for
hesitating to let the plane land in heavy rain that was lashing the
coast at the time.

"If the airport had quickly allowed the plane to come in to land,
the disaster would never have happened," she said, as a white-coated
doctor approached her to administer a sedative.

A team of four doctors was on hand at Yerevan, while Russian
authorities said psychologists were being deployed in Sochi to help
the bereaved when they arrived to help with identification of the dead.

"We have seen hysteria, hypertension, heart attacks. We have also
provided psychological help to those who need it," said one doctor,
Larisa Arsenyan.

Some 78 of the bereaved left for Sochi early Wednesday. More were
expected to follow on a second flight later in the day.