Mon, Apr 23, 2012 - Page 4 News List

Pakistan buries its airline crash dead

AFP, ISLAMABAD

Mourners gather around a coffin of a passenger killed in the Bhoja Air Boeing 737 crash during his funeral yesterday in Manshera, Pakistan.

Photo: AFP

Pakistan yesterday buried victims of an airline crash near Islamabad that killed all 127 people on board, as investigators probed the causes of the fatal incident.

The Bhoja Air flight from Karachi came down in fields near a village on the outskirts of the Pakistani capital on Friday evening, in the city’s second major fatal air crash in less than two years.

Thirteen of those killed were buried late on Saturday in Islamabad and funerals for 36 other victims were held in Karachi and other cities early yesterday, with more ceremonies expected in different cities throughout the day.

Television broadcasts showed footage of distraught relatives, weeping and hugging each other, as the dozens of coffins left Islamabad’s Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences hospital, where the remains had been taken.

About nine dead bodies have not yet been identified and will undergo DNA tests, a hospital official said.

Waseem Khawaja, in charge of Islamabad’s main hospital — the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences — said most of the bodies were beyond recognition and mutilated.

A reporter who visited the hospital late on Saturday said some of the remains still at the hospital were no more than body parts, stored on stretchers and covered by white sheets.

Most of the dead bodies, handed over to the relatives, were identified by their identity cards, jewelry, shoes, passports, watches, clothes and body parts, witnesses said.

A photographer at the crash site yesterday witnessed policemen cordoning off the whole area and not allowing local residents near. Investigation teams were busy collecting evidence from the site where the wreckage of the plane, along with victims’ clothes and shoes, were visible.

The disaster is the city’s second major plane crash in less than two years — an Airblue plane came down in bad weather in July 2010, killing 152 — and victims’ families have voiced fury at the authorities.

Civil Aviation Authority Director General Nadeem Khan Yusufzai said the plane suddenly dropped from 884m to 609m as it made its final approach to land, and vanished from the airport radar.

He said another plane from the private Airblue airline landed safely from the same approach about 10 minutes afterwards and there was no indication from the Bhoja pilot that he was in distress. The flight data recorder has been recovered and will be sent abroad for analysis, and the overall investigation could take up to a year to complete its work, he told reporters on Saturday,

Pakistani Interior minister Rehman Malik said a committee had been set up to investigate the crash and the head of the airline, Farooq Bhoja, had been put on an “exit control list,” banning him from leaving Pakistan.

All 127 people on board — 121 passengers and six crew — were killed when the plane crashed and burst into flames at about 6:40pm on Friday. There were 11 children among the dead.

Friday’s flight was Bhoja’s first evening trip from Karachi to Islamabad since resuming operations last month after a 12-year suspension for not paying Civil Aviation Authority dues.

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