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Air India tragedy remembered

Tuesday marked the 35th anniversary of the air India disaster off the Kerry coast. Stephen Fernane talks with photographer Michelle Cooper Galvin who witnessed devastating scenes in Valentia.

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Photos of the tragedy taken by Michelle Cooper Galvin

Photos of the tragedy taken by Michelle Cooper Galvin

Photographer Michelle Cooper Galvin

Photographer Michelle Cooper Galvin

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Photos of the tragedy taken by Michelle Cooper Galvin

The Air India Flight 182 disaster off the southwest coast happened 35 years ago this week when on June 23, 1985, a passenger jet travelling from Toronto to London on route to Bombay exploded in the sky over Castletownbere, killing all 329 passengers and crew on board. Sikh extremists were later accused of bringing down the Air India aircraft.

It's hard to countenance the horrific scenes in the aftermath as dead bodies and debris were removed from the water in the hours and days following the explosion when a joint recovery operation involving local RNLI units, Irish Navy and Royal Navy was put in place.

The Kerryman photographer Michelle Cooper Galvin recalls being at home in Killarney on the evening of the explosion minding her children when a call came through from the late Seamus McConville, editor of The Kerryman, asking her to head to Valentia where the RNLI was due to land with dead bodies.