Of the 158 passengers who died in Saturday's Air India plane crash here, 22 bodies are yet to be handed over to relatives.

There were multiple claimants for three of these bodies. Relatives found it difficult to identify the remaining ones as they were charred beyond recognition. Blood smears of the close relatives, along with photographs, of these 22 persons were taken for human DNA testing.

A two-member team from the Centre for DNA Fingerprinting and Diagnostics (CDFD), a government body, from Hyderabad arrived at the Government Wenlock Hospital here for this purpose. Madhusudan Reddy Nandineni, staff scientist and head, Laboratory of DNA Fingerprinting Services and Laboratory of Genomics and Profiling Applications, CDFD, is heading the team.

Prabhulinga Kavalikatti, Assistant Commissioner, Mangalore Sub-Division, said the analysis would be done in Hyderabad, and samples dispatched on Monday.

The 22 bodies would be kept in cold storage in five private hospitals in the city until the identification was done.

Dakshina Kannada Health and Family Welfare Officer H. Jagannath said a liver piece or a molar tooth or a femur bone or a muscle piece of each of the bodies would be sent along with samples of blood smear to Hyderabad. He said the DNA analysis reports were expected here within 15 days.

Identification

Earlier, the bodies kept in different private hospitals in the city on Saturday were brought to the Wenlock Hospital to enable relatives to identify the dead at one place. After identification, the police handed over to relatives the bodies over which there were no multiple claims.

Among the bodies handed over were that of the Air India Express flight's co-pilot H.S. Ahluwalia and commander Z. Glusica, said Mr. Kavalikatti.

In the evening, the district officials and the police conducted a meeting with the relatives of the 22 deceased passengers, who were yet to be identified, and briefed them on the next steps.

To a question, Mr. Kavalikatti said 16 persons from Kerala had made their claims for bodies.

There was less rush on the hospital premises on Sunday. Officials had set up two help desks — one for people of Kerala and the other for locals.