ISLAMABAD, May 26 (APP):Minister for Aviation Ghulam Sarwar Khan Tuesday said as many as 97 people had lost their lives in the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) plane crash tragedy, out of which 41 bodies had so far been identified while 56 DNA (Deoxyribonucleic Acid) tests were in process.
“Identified bodies have been handed over to heirs. Whereas, medical record and samples from heirs are being collected for remaining DNA tests to complete the identification process at the earliest,” he said in a statement issue here.
The minister said all bodies of the victims had been retrieved from the incident site by 12 p.m. on same day of the plane crash in collaboration with PIA scouts, volunteers; rescue teams of Army, Air Force, Police and Rangers, besides cooperation of local residents.
“The target of bodies’ retrieval had been achieved early by the rescue teams, who worked with dedication. The departments concerned were given the task to find the bodies within 24 hours.”
Elaborating the rescue and relief efforts, Sarwar said black-box of the ill-fated plane had been recovered within 24 hours of the incident and handed over to the investigating team, while search for the cockpit voice recorder was still underway. “It will also been handed over to the investigating team upon recovery.”
He said PIA was transporting dead bodies of the victims to their homes and its officers were handing over Rs one million each to heirs at their doorstep on account burial expenses.
The minister said heirs of the victims and residents of the area, who became homeless after being damaged their houses, had been provided accommodation at the PIA Airport Hotel and Qasr-e-Naz. “Around 36 heirs and four families of the victims are residing in the PIA hotel, while seven families are staying at the Qasr-e-Naz.”
He said the airliner also brought heirs of the victims to Karachi from abroad and within the country by providing them tickets so that they could visit the incident site and attend funerals of their loved ones.
Sarwar said PIA CEO Air Marshal Arsham Malik was himself inquiring after health of the injured, adding on special directives of the prime minister an amount of Rs 500,000 each had been announced as compensation for three females who received injuries on ground after the plane crash, besides bearing their treatment expenses.
He said a survey had been started to assess the damages occurred to houses and property, following which the government would announce a compensation package.
He said PIA Emergency Response Centre was fully operation and busy to assist the affected families, and would continue with the same spirit till handing over of the last body to heirs.
The minister said the government had directed the investigating team to compile and submit its report within three months, adding assistance from a team of the Airbus (manufacturers of the aircraft) had been sought in that regard, which had started its work on the incident site.
For impartial and transparent investigation, he said, no one from PIA, Civil Aviation and any other stakeholder would be included in the investigation team.
He was of the view that investigation was of a technical and complex nature, so it was impossible to determine actual cause of the incident on the basis of a picture, video or voice recording. He requested the public to avoid giving attention towards the so-called experts misleading them due to their limited information about the incident.
“A team of qualified experts in carrying out their professional work in that regard,” he added.
The minister also issued directives to PIA and Civil Aviation review professional training and eligibility standard of their pilots, engineers and other associated staff, expedite the reformation process and submit their recommendations to the government accordingly.
Commenting on a statement by a political party, Sarwar said it was extremely irresponsible and unethical attitude to produce an unauthentic conclusion of a purely technical issue on the basis of unconfirmed information.
“It is a matter of sensitive nature, causes of which can only be determined after a thorough investigation by all aspects,” the minister said.
He said a fully independent team was imperative to ensure the investigation process transparent, so the government had decided that no one from the PIA, Civil Aviation and other departments concerned would be included in the team, probing the incident.
The PIA, Civil Aviation and other departments concerned had no role in the investigation process, he added.