Sobbing relatives flock to the airport

ISLAMABAD - After the news of the plane crash was aired by local TV channels, sobbing relatives of those on the flight flocked to the airport as a minister expressed little hope of finding survivors.

By Zarar Khan

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Published: Sat 21 Apr 2012, 1:07 AM

Last updated: Fri 3 Apr 2015, 9:40 AM

Emergency workers used flashlights to search among the smoldering wreckage of the fuselage, smashed seats and body parts for any sign of life at the crash site, which was just a few kilometres from the Benazir Bhutto International Airport. One rescue official asked villagers to bring him sheets to cover the dead.

The aircraft was a Boeing 737-200 operated by Bhoja Air, a domestic carrier that has just four planes and only resumed operations last month after suspending them in 2001 due to financial difficulties. The flight was traveling from the country’s largest city of Karachi to the Pakistani capital, officials said. It was the airline’s first evening flight from Karachi, according to a Bhoja Air official.

Relatives of those on the flight thronged the airline’s counters at Karachi and Islamabad airports, crying.

“My brother’s wife was on board this flight,” said Naveed Khan, who was among family members who gathered at Karachi’s airport. “We pray for the departed souls, what else can we do now?”

Wreckage, including smashed seats, clothes and jewelry belonging to passengers, was spread out over a one-kilometre wide area.

“I saw nothing but body parts and twisted metal on the ground when reached the scene,” said local resident Mustafa, who only gave one name. “We collected up small pieces of human flesh and bundled them in cloth sheets like we collect grain.”

Islamabad police chief Bani Yameen said that nobody on the ground appeared to be killed, “but apparently all onboard perished.” Civil aviation officials also reported survivors were unlikely, said Defence Minister Chaudhry Ahmed Mukhtar.

A violent rain, wind and thunder storm was lashing the capital at the time of the crash, which occurred about 6:40 p.m. local time.

“It was really bad weather for a flight,” said Navy captain Arshad Mahmood, who lives near the crash site. “The pilot was forced to move down to avoid clouds that were generating the lightening and thunder.”

Several farmers threshing wheat in the field near the crash said they saw the craft burst into flames when it hit the ground. “The flames leapt up like they were touching the sky,” said Mohammed Zubair.



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