As investigators gather clues as to what caused Wednesday’s plane crash in Madrid, authorities are still trying to identify those killed.
Only 19 of the 166 passengers and crew survived the tragedy, which involved a Spanair flight due to leave for the Canary Islands.
The airline is not commenting on possible causes, but it is known the flight had been delayed due to a technical problem.
The government has now confirmed the death toll.
Spain’s Deputy Prime Minister, Maria Teresa Fernandez de la Vega, said: “153 people died. They have all been found and taken to the morgue in the IFEMA crisis centre. All of them have undergone autopsies. Regarding identification, two types of processes are being carried out: using fingerprints and DNA:” The plane crashed on its second attempt at takeoff.
During the first attempt an air intake gauge detected overheating and the plane turned back. Technicians later gave the green-light after switching off the gauge, a procedure they say is standard practice. The plane’s left engine reportedly caught fire before it shot off the runway and burst into flames.
Aviation expert Daniel Claret said: “When one of the engines doesn’t work properly, but the other one does, the plane tilts to one side. If the control-plane surfaces are damaged, this causes the flight to lose control.”
Spanair, which has been struggling financially, is promising full cooperation with the investigation.