A ringing cellphone found on the body of a deceased passenger has helped ambulance staff identify this victim in Saturday's air crash at the Mangalore airport.

As the bodies were being brought to the Government Wenlock Hospital, the ambulance staff heard a phone ringing. They found it in the trouser pocket of a deceased person and on answering the call, it was known that the victim was Narayana Rao (50), a senior clerk in the Bejai branch of Karnataka Bank. The ambulance staff said they also found Rs. 9,000 in cash in his trouser pocket and handed over the money to a police officer.

Rao's was the first body identified in the casualty ward of the hospital. He was aboard the ill-fated plane with his wife Vani, an Ayurvedic doctor, and daughter Vaishnavi. Relatives and friends of other passengers who died in the crash found it difficult to identity bodies in this and other hospitals here as most of them were charred beyond recognition. Some were seen identifying bodies from ear-rings, necklaces and finger rings.

Many had to run from one hospital to another as some bodies were kept in the Kasturba Medical College Hospital at Attavar, the Colaco Hospital, the A. J. Hospital and the S.C.S. Hospital in the city.

At the Wenlock Hospital, a shamiyana was erected on the premises to keep bodies. People were pushing one another to see the bodies.

Janet, married to Denis Saldanha (37) of Nitte in Karkala, lost her husband as well as her five-year-old son Ashton. Her relatives said Janet had returned from Dubai a week ago with another son, two-and-half-year old Immanuel.

Shankar Poonja had arrived at the Air India office at Hat Hill at about 8.30 a.m. itself to know about the fate of his relatives — Shashikant Poonja (42), his wife Manirekha Poonja (40) and their daughter Harshini from Lady Hill.

Shankar grew suspicious as Shashikant was not taking the calls made to his two cellphones. Later their names were found on the list of the dead at the Wenlock Hospital.

Shankar said his relative's mother was living alone in Kottara Cross. Shashikant was a former student of the Manipal Institute of Technology.

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