Amporn Charuchinda, police commissioner of forensics, said many victims were "burned beyond recognition".

 

The unidentified bodies have been stored in a refrigerated cargo hold close to Phuket airport.

 

Major General Santhan Chayanon, the regional deputy police commander, said most of the Thai bodies and that of the Indonesian pilot have been retrieved by relatives.

 

The dead come from at least 10 countries, including the US, Australia, Britain, France, Germany, Iran, Ireland, Israel, Sweden and Thailand.

 

Compensation

 

What is wind shear?

Wind shear is a sudden change in either wind speed or direction within a short distance, causing a sudden gain or loss of lift for aircraft.

It is generally associated with frontal weather systems, particularly thunderstorms, and can also be affected by the topography of the area.

It can easily destabilise an aircraft and is one of the most challenging conditions a pilot can face.

Wind shear poses the greatest risk to an aircraft during take off or landing when it is flying just above stall speed.

A particularly dangerous form is vertical wind shear (also known as a microburst), where wind suddenly reverses from blowing slightly upwards under the aircraft to a downward direction, creating a downward force on the aircraft.

On Tuesday, an Iranian embassy official in Bangkok said 15 of the dead Iranians have been identified while fingerprints and DNA samples were required from relatives in Iran for the remaining three.

 

An Israeli forensics team which came to Thailand to help with the identification of victims has said it would offer its services to help identify the three dead Iranians.

 

Thai officials also promised to speed up the identification process as relatives pressed for speedier compensation.

 

Sansern Wong-Chaum, Thailand's deputy transport minister, said the airline has been asked to accelerate the compensation process.

 

He also dismissed reports that a finding of pilot error may result in no compensation being paid, saying that the terms of an aviation licence included compensation in case of an accident.

 

Air accident investigators are focusing on the possibility that a type of wind shear known as a microburst caused the crash as the aircraft tried to land.