Bodies of Georgians found in mass grave in Abkhazia to return home, 08 May 2014 - 19:26, Tbilisi,Georgia

After 21 years from Babushera tragedy, excavation of the Georgian remains found in mass grave in Abkhazia at Sokhumi’s Babushera Airport has begun, with Georgian authorities hoping to identify the remains and return the bodies’ home to Georgia.

A plane carrying more than 120 people from Tbilisi was shot down while landing at Babushera airport in Sokhumi on September 20, 1993, during the Abkhaz war. The event happened a few days before Tbilisi lost the battle for Sukhumi on September 27, 1993.

Today, authorities are beginning to excavate the graves at the Babushera cemetery and are tasked with identifying the bodies so they can be returned to their relatives.

The opening of graves in the breakaway region of Georgia will continue until May 26. International humanitarian aid group Red Cross is facilitating cooperation between de-facto Abkhaz authorities and Georgian officials, Minister of Internally Displaced Persons and Refugees David Darakhvelidze announced today.

About 20 people survived the plane accident.

It is believed 36 graves of Georgian citizens still remain at Babushera cemetery, said the founder of the ‘Molodini (Waiting) for Finding Lost People’ fund, Nineli Andriadze, who lost her son in the Abkhaz war.

To date, 47 bodies have been transferred from the grave site. The last transfer happened in 2001. Four of the 47 bodies have been reburied by the victim’s families. Forty-three lie in the Vashlijvari Cemetery in Tbilisi while 22 remain unidentified.

"Negotiations to transfer the bodies renewed in 2006 but at the last moment the deal was cancelled,” Andriadze said.

Now international experts will take part in the identification process of the unidentified remains. Andriadze said DNA samples would be taken from those 22 unidentified bodies to help discover who they are.

"The transfer of the remains to Tbilisi will start from May 26 and after the identification process, the bodies will return to their families,” Darakhvelidze said.

Babushera Airport, located in the capital city of breakaway region Abkhazia, has been closed to regular flights since 1993.

See the video of the Babushera Airport incident in Sokhumi in September 1993. Property of Georgia's Public Broadcaster.