MULTAN -  Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) on Sunday directed to ground all the ATR airplanes after an engine of a PIA ATR aircraft caught fire while on runway of Multan Airport before taking off, a private TV channel reported.

The PIA airplane PK-581 was set to take off from Multan to Karachi when it met the unfortunate incident, the TV channel said, quoting sources.

The ill-fated plane along other nine existing ATR jets have been grounded, while the passengers will be sent to their destination through an alternative aircraft. A team of engineers will leave Karachi to Multan for repairing the aircraft.

PIA REBUTS REPORTS ABOUT HAVELIAN CRASH

Staff Reporter from Islamabad adds: A PIA spokesperson has strongly rebutted media reports that propeller of one the engines of the ATR-42 aircraft that crashed on December 7, had started to spin in reverse, or had some known defect prior to take off, which led to the accident.

In a statement issued on Sunday, he said that those reports were mere speculations, which might mislead the public into drawing wrong conclusions.

He said that fact of the matter was that both engines of the aircraft were fully operational at the time of takeoff from Chitral and some problem developed during flight.

The spokesperson said that the whole incident was being thoroughly investigated by Safety Investigation Board (SIB), which was an independent body working under the Aviation Division.

All items recovered from the site, including cockpit instruments, were part of the evidence and may give valuable insights about the cause of the accident, but cannot provide conclusive evidence in isolation.

The spokesperson assured the public that the SIB was under instructions from the prime minister of Pakistan that a detailed, independent and transparent inquiry be carried out and truth should be brought out and shared with the people in the shortest possible time.

He advised the media to wait till the investigation process was completed and refrained from drawing any premature conclusions.

The ATR 42 and 72 (more than 1,200 aircraft built) use engines manufactured by one of world's most reliable engine manufacturers, Pratt and Whitney, which has provided more than 13,000 commercial engines to a range of aircraft manufacturers including Boeing and Airbus since 1925, in addition to providing more than 7,300 engines for multiple military aircraft.

In a related development, the PIMs authorities on Sunday said that samples of the blood testing to identify the bodies of the crashed plane was likely to take at least six more days.

Dr Altaf Hussain, spokesperson of the hospital further said that blood samples of the Chinese national had been obtained from his brother, while efforts were underway to approach the close relatives of the two Austrian nationals.