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Bringing closure to relatives of those killed in '52 Alaska crash

By Phil Gast, CNN
updated 6:13 PM EDT, Sat July 14, 2012
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • A C-124 Globemaster cargo plane crashed in Alaska in November 1952
  • All 52 aboard were killed
  • Debris from the crash was spotted last month on a glacier several miles away
  • A team is now analyzing material recovered at the site

(CNN) -- A specialized military unit has begun analyzing possible human remains recovered from wreckage of a cargo plane that crashed 60 years ago in Alaska, killing all on board.

The C-124 Globemaster, near the end of a flight from Washington state to Alaska, crashed in November 1952 on Mount Gannett, killing 52.

The debris was covered by an avalanche and not rediscovered until June 10, said Capt. Jamie Dobson, spokeswoman for the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command based in Hawaii.

An eight-member team from the command flew to the site on Colony Glacier, several miles from where the plane went down. After the avalanche and over the years, some of the wreckage moved to the glacier, officials said.

"We took back with us material evidence that could possibly make an identification," Dobson said Saturday.

Besides possible human remains, the team recovered pieces of clothing with names, life-support equipment, such as parachutes and lifeboats, personal effects and survival kits with food, she said.

Military units based in Alaska were back at the scene this week to recover and safeguard additional debris.

Identification of remains typically takes months, but can take years, Dobson said.

Dobson called the recovery site hazardous, marked by deep crevices and shifting pieces of glacier falling into a lake. Typically, about 10% of debris in such an incident will surface.

The Alaskan Command, involved with the debris recovery, did not immediately respond to a message left Saturday by CNN.

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