Weeping Relatives Demand Pakistan Crash Answers
As Reported by Agence France Presse
Dozens of coffins lined a hallway at Islamabad’s main hospital on Saturday as weeping relatives of the victims of the Bhoja Air plane crash slammed the authorities for the disaster.
All 127 people on board perished when the Boeing 737 from Karachi crashed and burst into flames as it attempted to land at Islamabad airport in bad weather on Friday evening.
The plane was smashed to pieces by the impact of the crash, with wreckage and human limbs strewn over a wide area of farmland on the outskirts of the Pakistani capital.
Staff at the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS), their faces covered with masks, sprayed air freshener to mask the smell of burnt flesh in the room where the remains lay.
Some remains were no more than body parts, kept on stretchers and covered by white sheets.
The disaster is the city’s second major plane crash in less than two years — an Airblue plane came down in bad weather in July 2010, killing 152 — and victims’ families voiced fury at the authorities.
A visibly dejected woman identifying herself as Mrs Hassan, 45, said she had come to collect the body of her 45-year old cousin Mohammad Yunus, a Muslim scholar who had been running a madrassa (Islamic seminary) in Karachi.
“We could not get the full body. We recognized his hand and hair along with his jacket,” she said.
“It’s sheer incompetence of the government. This is the second major accident here in less than two years but the president and the prime minister remain unmoved.
“If the weather was bad why they did not warn the pilot. Why did they allow the plane to land?”
Abdul Raoof, 55, said he had come for the body of his cousin Ghulam Farooq, 45, who worked for the State Life Insurance Corporation in Islamabad.
“We have been roaming here since early morning. We go inside the mortuary and return in depression after seeing body parts and severed limbs lying there.
“We wait, get impatient and then go inside again only to return disappointed. We are traumatized. We want to get the body and leave this place as early as possible.”
Raoof blamed the airport control tower for negligence.
“If the weather was bad the plane should have been turned away,” he said.
“It is also a mistake of the airline. They sacrificed 127 lives just to save some fuel.”
Many of the family members flown from Karachi on a special Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) flight were inconsolable, too overwhelmed with grief to speak.
One young man wept bitterly for the cousin and aunt he lost in the crash, who were returning from pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia.
“I don’t want to talk, please leave us alone,” he told journalists.
Hospital staff sprinkled rose petals on some of the coffins as a gesture of compassion, while police and soldiers consoled relatives.
At the scene of the crash, sniffer dogs joined rescue workers as they resumed the operation to recover bodies.
Debris was scattered over a two-kilometer (one-mile) area, with torn fragments of the fuselage, including a large section bearing the Bhoja Air logo, littering the fields around the village of Hussain Abad.
Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani told reporters a judicial commission would investigate the crash