Pakistan promises inquiry into crash

Sat, Apr 21, 2012, 01:00

Pakistani officials today promised a full investigation into the crash of a domestic flight that killed 127 people, saying they were examining all possibilities, from a technical fault to the age of the Boeing 737 to sabotage.

Grieving relatives claiming the remains of loved ones at a hospital expressed grief and anger over the crash in a storm as the plane approached Islamabad on a flight from Karachi, Pakistan's commercial hub.

Armed police kept media out of the Institute of Medical Sciences in the capital where the remains were stored.With wreckage scattered over a square km of wheat fields, officials said there were no survivors.

"We are trying to find out whether the life of the plane was over, whether it was a technical fault, whether it was sabotage or any other reason," Interior Ministers Rehman Malik told reporters.

The Boeing 737-200 was more than 27 years old, according to AviationSafety.net. Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani, speaking outside the hospital, said: "Until investigations are completed, we cannot jump to any conclusions."

Mr Malik said the owner of Bhoja Air, Farooq Bhoja, had been barred from leaving the country to ensure his cooperation with the investigation.

"Action will be taken, and will be seen to have been taken, I promise you," he said.

Bhoja Air started flights in 1993 but suspended operations eight years later because of financial problems. It resumed
domestic flights only last month.

The plane's "black box", which records flight data, was recovered last night, rescue authorities said. Bhoja officials were not immediately available for comment.

Many of the relatives gathered at the hospital had flown up from Karachi on Saturday morning for the task of identifying victims. Women and men sobbed openly and pushed reporters away.

In July 2010, an AirBlue jet slammed into the mountains ringing Islamabad on a foggy morning, killing all 152 aboard.
Two other crashes that year killed 33 people.Pakistan is rated a category 1 by the US Federal Aviation Authority, which means it meets international standards for air safety.

Reuters