x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Pakistan orders all private airline planes to undergo inspection

Defence minister says all airplanes operated by private airlines in the country must undergo a new technical inspection to determine whether they are safe to fly, following a crash near Islamabad which killed all 127 on board.

Relatives mourn next to the coffin of a passenger killed in the Bhoja Air accident, during a funeral in Karachi today.
Relatives mourn next to the coffin of a passenger killed in the Bhoja Air accident, during a funeral in Karachi today.

ISLAMABAD // Pakistan’s defence minister said yesterday that all airplanes operated by private airlines in the country must undergo a new technical inspection to determine whether they are safe to fly.

Chaudhry Ahmed Mukhtar’s comments come two days after a passenger jet crashed as it tried to land in a thunderstorm at the main airport in Islamabad, killing all 127 on board.

It was the second major air disaster involving a private airline in Pakistan in less than two years, reviving concerns about the safety of aviation in a country saddled by economic problems.

Mr Mukhtar told state TV the inspections would be carried out one by one, and any planes that failed would be grounded.
He said planes now in operation could continue to fly as they awaited inspection.

Meanwhile, families yesterday began to bury victims of the crash. The Bhoja Air flight from Karachi came down in fields near a village on the outskirts of the capital on Friday.

Thirteen of those killed were buried in Islamabad late Saturday and funerals for 36 other victims were held in Karachi and other cities yesterday.

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.

Nine bodies have not been identified and will undergo DNA tests, a hospital official said.

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

An AFP photographer at the crash site yesterday saw policemen cordoning off the area and not allowing residents near.

Investigation teams were busy collecting evidence.

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

* Associated Press and Agence-France Presse