ISLAMABAD/KARACHI - Rescue workers recovered 97 dead bodies while only two passengers survived miraculously as the country mourns the horrendous plane crash on the eve of Eid festival in the end of the holy month.

A high-powered committee has been tasked to investigate one of the deadliest plane crashes in the country’s history. Officials on Saturday said 21 bodies were handed over to relatives while rescue operation was still underway at the site.

Pakistan Army’s Search & Rescue Team, Army troops, Rangers, and social welfare organisatons are taking part in the operation.

According to a statement issued by Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR), at least 97 bodies of the plane crash victims were recovered. Two passengers survived in the crash, while 25 houses damaged by the air crash were also cleared. The residents of the affected houses are accommodated at various places with assistance of Civil Administration.

Black box recovered

The flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder of Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) Airbus 320 jetliner are recovered from the crash site, a spokesperson of the airline said on Saturday.

Several young officers among martyred

“The black box had been found late yesterday, we are handing it over to the inquiry board,” PIA spokesman Abdullah Khan said, clarifying that both the flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder were found.

Shortly after the incident, Prime Minister Imran Khan vowed to institute an inquiry immediately. An investigation team under Air Commodore Usman Ghani was constituted and which will “furnish its report” to the Aviation Division “within the shortest possible time”, according to a notification issued by the division.

“A preliminary statement will be issued within one month,” says the notification.

Compensation for families

Federal Minister Aviation Ghulam Sarwar says the inquiry report of the PIA plane crash incident will be compiled in shortest possible time. Earlier, while addressing news conference along CEO of PIA Air Marshal retired Arshad Malik in Karachi this afternoon, he said we fully share the pain and grief of the families of the deceased. He said no one can compensate the loss of human lives; however, government will expedite the process to award compensation of one million rupees to family of each victim.

The Minister said compensation will also be given to those, whose properties, including houses or vehicles were damaged in the incident after, proper assessment.

 

Ghulam Sarwar said it will be ensured that at least a provincial investigation report of the incident comes within three months. He assured that there will be an independent, free, and fair inquiry and any responsible, if found, will be taken to the task. The Minister said security forces, relief agencies and ordinary citizens displayed exemplary humanitarian spirit to save the crash victims.

CEO PIA Arshad Malik said transparent investigation will be held into the incident. He said samples of DNA were taken to identify the bodies.

 

Survivors and dead

Authorities on Saturday confirmed that Muhammad Zubair and Zafar Masood are the only survivors of the ill fated aircraft (Air Bus 320) that crashed Friday in Karachi while 97 other passengers including 26 women, 68 men and three children are among the dead.

While sharing details of the bodies carried to different hospitals for needed procedures, it was mentioned that 66 bodies (20 female, 43 male and three children) were moved to Jinnah Post Graduate Medical Center (JPMC), of those 16 could be identified and 50 remain unidentified.

 

Thirty one bodies were carried to Dr Ruth Pfau Civil Hospital - Karachi included six of women and 25 men. Twenty eight of them remain unidentified and three identified as that of Major Sheriyar, Lt. Balaj and Syed Danish Shah s/o Syed Ahad Shah. Former two were shifted to CMH-Malir.

 

The DNA process was said to be initiated without any unnecessary delay and on completion of the sample collection 11 bodies were moved to Edhi mortuary, 18 to Cheepa and two to CMH-Malir.

 

Sixteen of the victims were identified as Captain  Sajjad Gul, Muhammad Tahir s/o Abdul, Fareeha Rasool d/o Ghulam Rasool, Faryal Begum w/o Asadullah, Syeda Saima Imran w/o Syed Imran Hasan, Farhan s/o Abdul Qadir, Dilshad Ahmed s/o Mubeen Ahmad, Shaheed Mohammad Ahmed s/o Syed Jamal Ahmed, Nida Waqas d/o Irfanullah, Ammar Rashid s/o Rashid Mahmood, Shehnaz Parveen w/o Amanullah Khan, Shoaib Raza s/o Shareef Raza, Waqas Tariq s/o Muhammad Tariq, Iqra Shahid d/o Shahid, Maham w/o Major Sheriyar and Alisa Sheriyar d/o Major Sheriyar.

 

Following DNA sample collection of the bodies, 21 were shifted to the morgue managed by Chipa Welfare and other 45 to Edhi mortuary. One of the two survivors with burn injuries is under treatment at Burns Center, Civil Hospital Karachi and the other at a private hospital.

 

DNA samples of victims

Sindh Governor Imran Ismail on Saturday said that DNA samples of the victims died in Pakistan International Airlines – PIA’s plane crash, were collected for identification, so as to hand over the bodies to the bereaved families after comparison and matching with the DNA of their relatives.

 

The heirs of the victims of plane crash would be paid rupees one million each initially, besides the insurance amount, he said this while speaking on the occasion of visit to the site of plane crash incident here, said a spokesperson to the Sindh Governor.

 

Imran Ismail said that on the directives of the Prime Minister Imran Khan, the heirs of the victims would be paid rupees one million, each initially. The insurance amount will be in addition, he added.

 

The Sindh Governor visited the site of PIA’s plane crash at Model Colony here along with the Members of Provincial Assembly Haleem Adil Sheikh, Firdous Shamim Naqvi, Khurram Sher Zaman, Sidrah Imran, Jamal Siddiqui and Member National Assembly Aftab Siddiqui.

 

Federal Minister for Aviation Ghulam Sarwar Khan, CEO PIA Arshad Malik also accompanied the Sindh Governor. The Governor of Sindh sought details of the accident from the residents of the area.

Speaking on the occasion, the Governor of Sindh said that it is a very sad event in which precious human lives are lost. The Governor of Sindh was informed by the CEO of PIA that PIA Scouts have been largely participated in the relief work. He said that all the bodies were recovered from the plane crash wreckage while two persons have survived the tragedy.

 

Talking to media after inspecting the plane crash site, the Governor of Sindh appreciated the role of Pakistan Army and Rangers personnel, Edhi, Cheepa, Pakistan Boy Scouts and Red Crescent volunteers in the relief work and said that they worked very hard. He further said that on the directives of the Prime Minister Imran Khan, the relatives and occupants of the houses affected by the accident are being accommodated at Qasr Naz and Airport Hotel.

 

To a question, Imran Ismail said that the inquiry committee constituted by the federal government had started its work and the causes of the incident would be ascertained when its report comes out.

 

Later, the Governor of Sindh visited the Emergency Response Center and Call Centre set up at PIA Headquarters. PIA CEO Arshad Malik told the Sindh Governor that the Emergency Response Center had started functioning within half an hour of the accident.

 

He said that so far the bodies of 21 bodies were handed over to their families while the process of removing all the bodies from the rubble has been completed.  The Governor Sindh was further informed that after taking the DNA of the relatives, the remaining bodies would be handed over to them.

 

 

Speaking on the occasion, Federal Minister for Aviation Ghulam Sarwar Khan said that the houses destroyed in the accident would be rebuilt by the federal government while compensation would be announced after estimating the number of vehicles destroyed in the incident.  He said that the facts of the accident would be brought before the parliament and the public.

 

All DNA tests to be done in Karachi

 

Sindh Health Minister Azra Pechuho said that all the DNA tests of the plane crash victims will be conducted at the lab under the University of Karachi, calling it a state of the art facility. The provincial health minister and Sindh government Spokesman Murtaza Wahab addressed a press conference, a day after a Pakistan International Airlines plane crashed at a densely populated area of Karachi.

Dr Pechuho said that Sindh Governor Imran Ismail is unaware of the situation in the city, adding that the tests will be done in Sindh. The minister said that the DNA tests will take 21 days and till now 47 families have submitted their samples.

 

Forensic experts

Forensic teams from the Punjab Forensic Science Agency arrived in Karachi on Saturday to collect DNA samples from the victims of PIA flight PK-8303. Head of the Punjab Forensic Science Agency Dr Tahir Ashraf told a TV channel that three teams comprising forensic scientists were in Karachi to collect DNA samples from the plane crash victims. “The teams will start collecting samples from today,” Dr Ashraf said on Saturday. He said the teams will collect samples from the bodies and the victims’ parents, siblings or children to identify the victims. “As soon as the samples reach Lahore, we will work day and night to get the result out as soon as possible. The result of the DNA test will be available in 24 hours,” he said.