Relatives collect Pakistan crash dead

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REUTERS

Ayesha Ishaque, sister of Mohammad Saud Ishaque who was killed in a Boeing 737 airliner crash, cries over his casket at the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences hospital (PIMS) in Islamabad.

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 arrived to collect their remains.

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.

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-kilometre (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.

Soldiers combed the fields, collecting body parts and victims' belongings.

Military and aviation officials said bad weather was probably behind the crash, as there was a hail and thunderstorm over the city at the time.

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani told reporters a judicial commission would investigate the crash, which came less than two years after the worst air disaster in Pakistan, in which 152 people died. - Sapa-AFP


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