Islamabad, April 21 (IANS) All 127 people on board the Bhoja Airlines flight that crashed near here have died and their bodies have been shifted to a hospital for identification, Pakistan’s Interior Minister Rehman Malik confirmed Saturday.
The aircraft with 118 passengers and nine crew members crashed Friday, minutes before it was to land at the Benazir Bhutto International Airport here at 7 p.m., apparently due to bad weather. The plane had taken off from Karachi at 5 p.m.
The pilot lost contact with the control tower at 6.40 p.m.
A special plane will airlift the relatives of those killed in the crash from Karachi. Special counters have been set up at the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences here, where the bodies are kept, to facilitate the relatives.
Officials from the National Database and Registration Authority are helping identify the bodies. DNA tests are also being carried, as most of the bodies are mutilated.
The bodies of about 20 passengers have already been identified and some of them have been handed over to the relatives, Xinhua reported quoting the doctors.
The interior minister said several airline officials have been barred from leaving the country until the probe is complete.
President Asif Ali Zardari has ordered an inquiry into the second worst air crash in Pakistan in less than two years. The investigation team was expected to visit the crash site, spread over one kilometre, Saturday.
According to aviation officials, the plane was 27 years old. However, the airline claimed the Boeing-737 was fit for flight. It was the airline’s maiden flight from Karachi to Islamabad.
Aviation sources said the black box flight recorder has been recovered and would help understand the cause of the crash.