Pakistan mourns 127 killed in crash; investigation begins

Pakistan mourns 127 killed in crash; investigation begins

The remains of 127 people onboard a plane that crashed near Islamabad were on Saturday handed over to relatives, but the Civil Aviation Authority said the investigation would take three months to a year to complete, dpa reported.

Mehmod Jamal, the executive director of the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) in Islamabad, said all the postmortems had been completed.

"We have recognized 115 bodies so far, and 112 bodies were handed over to their heirs," Jamal said.

Earlier Saturday, Jamal said they had received body parts collected in 140 bags from the crash site. "No single body was found in one piece."

The private Bhoja Airlines-owned Boeing 737-200 flying from Karachi to Islamabad went down Friday about 15 kilometres short of the airport, killing all the passengers and crew.

On Saturday, hundreds of mourners thronged to the airports in both Islamabad and Karachi, as well as PIMS to collect the remains.

Women wept over the coffins that were covered with rose petals, with only a white sign mentioning the victim's name and "body number." Men clutched photographs of the victims.

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani visited the PIMS hospital to express solidarity with the relatives of the victims and reiterated that a "fair" inquiry would be conducted.

But he added: "We cannot conclude anything until investigations are complete."

The director general of the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), Nadeem Yousafzai, told reporters it would take between three months to a year to complete the investigation.

CAA spokesman Mubarik Shah said the flight recorders had been recovered, but most of the wreckage was still lying at the site.

Interior Minister Rehman Malik said earlier it was possible that the plane had been struck by lightning during a storm, and that its wings had caught fire before the crash.

While acknowledging that the weather was bad, Yousafzai said the plane could have landed, adding that shortly before the crash another private jet had landed safely.

Meanwhile, the authorities on Saturday barred the owner of Bhoja Airlines from leaving the country.

Farooq Bhoja's name was put on the Interior Ministry's "exit control list," following an investigation ordered by Gilani.

"The owner of the airline has been put on the exit control list and he will not be allowed to leave the country without the permission of the government," said the interior minister.

A Federal Investigation Agency team raided a Karachi office of Bhoja Airlines and confiscated some documents and plane records, Dunya TV reported.

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