Published: Sunday, December 25, 1988
LOCKERBIE, Scotland -- Americans who lost loved ones on Flight 103 visited the disaster site Saturday, and police questioned whether more than 100 bodies still missing ever will be found.
American Joe Horgan said he had been out across the search area near the Scottish village of Lockerbie Saturday morning.
"I think you feel better once you actually see the site for yourself," said Horgan, who spoke at a news conference on condition that his hometown and details about his relative aboard the flight were not disclosed.
He said he came to Lockerbie "first and foremost to assist in the identification process of the bodies, and for our personal need to be near our loved one."
As more than 600 police, troops and rescue workers combed Lockerbie and a wide area of the surrounding countryside for the third day Saturday, police said there would be no halt for Christmas.
"Nothing will change over Christmas," said police spokesman Angus Kennedy. "The search will go on and on. There are no plans at all to scale down the search operation."
It was uncertain, however, whether the missing bodies would be found.
"We will not be able to answer that question for many days," Kennedy said Friday night after the second full day of searching.
Bodies of 155 people, killed Wednesday when a Pan American World Airways Boeing 747 slammed into the village of Lockerbie, have been placed in two temporary mortuaries.
The approximately 20 relatives who have arrived in Lockerbie have been unable to see any of the bodies because none has been positively identified.
Horgan said that experts were "using comparative information from bodies they have found" to try to identify them.
"Any little piece of information, whether it be clothing, articles, anything at all, would definitely help the process come to a speedy conclusion," Horgan said.
Asked about the mental state of the relatives who flew to Britain from the United States, he said: "You run quite a gamut of emotions -- grief, loss, frustration, anger." The anger, he said, was related to conjectures about the cause of the disaster.
Tom McMenamay, local director of social work, said that increasing numbers of relatives were arriving in Lockerbie without advance notice.
As soon as relatives made contact with local authorities, he said, they were provided with a counselor. "Everybody's been wonderful," Horgan said. "Everybody's doing a great job."
Pan Am says that 258 people were aboard the flight to New York, and police are looking for about 20 people on the ground who have been missing since the crash. Six hundred people are participating in the search, backed by helicopters and dogs trained to seek bodies.
Heavy equipment was brought in to help move large pieces of wreckage.
One body was found Friday where the wreckage carved a 20- foot-deep furrow into sticky red clay and obliterated four houses.
The explosion, which witnesses said created a 300-foot fireball, turned much of the 747 into shrapnel that tore holes in roofs and windows more than 100 yards away.
Bits of debris were strewn across the devastated Sherwood Crescent street. A chunk 10 feet long was knifed into a lawn, but most other pieces were much smaller.
"On the other end in the countryside, part of the area being searched is very difficult bogland -- so you have natural difficulties and disaster-made difficulties," Kennedy said.
The main search area extends 15 miles east of Lockerbie in the rolling countryside of southwestern Scotland.
Police reduced their list of missing villagers from 22 to 20. One person whose car was caught in the inferno had been treated for injuries and released Wednesday night, and the other was found to be already on the list of missing.
"First, you search for the living, then you are searching for the dead, then for property, evidence, bits of airplane. These searches will go on and on and on," Kennedy said.
He said as many as 30 relatives of the victims had visited Lockerbie and had been briefed by police. He offered no details about the visits.
Police were not discouraging relatives from coming, Kennedy said, but he added: "As a police officer and a person, I would say Lockerbie and the site of the terrible tragedy is perhaps not the place you should be visiting at this point -- and I say that on humanitarian grounds."