ISLAMABAD: The process of collecting samples from the relatives of the Pakistani victims of the PIA air crash to identify their bodies through DNA testing completed on Friday.

However, samples to identify the remains of three foreigners, who were also travelling in the PIA flight from Chitral to Islamabad on Wednesday, are yet to be received.

Minister for Capital Administration and Development Division (CADD) Dr Tariq Fazal Chaudhry said it has been learnt that one of the foreigners had a steel plate in the knee which would help in the identification of his body once the other bodies are identified and handed over to their relatives. About the bodies of the two other foreigners, he added, the matter would be taken up with the embassies concerned.

Eight bodies identified, samples collected for identification of 36 victims

As many as 47 people, including 31 males, nine females, two infants and five PIA crew and other staff, died in the plane crash. The bodies were initially brought to the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (Pims) and later shifted to a cold storage near Rawat.

The administrator of Pims, Dr Altaf Hussain, said eight bodies had been identified by Friday and handed over to the families.

Blood samples of close relatives of the 36 passengers have been collected and sent to laboratories in Islamabad to match them with the bodies. It will take over a week to complete the identification process and hand over the bodies to the relatives, he said.

“Some of the relatives of the deceased wanted to leave the city so we have advised them to give authority letters to those who would be collecting the bodies.”

In reply to a question, Dr Hussain said the three foreigners were from Austria, China and South Korea. However, samples to identify the bodies of the foreigners have not been received.

“We cannot directly contact the embassies of these countries so CADD will take steps in this regard,” he said.

According to documents, the foreigners were Han Qiang, Harald Kessier and Herwig Eichelbenger.

Minister for CADD Dr Tariq told Dawn that he made it sure that all the samples were collected without any delay. He said 50 rooms had been reserved for relatives of the victims in a four-star hotel in Rawalpindi.

About the samples to recognise the foreigners, he said once the Pakistani passengers are identified, there would be only three bodies left.

“I have been informed that one foreigner had steel plate in his knee so hopefully his body will also be identified. If samples are not received for the identification of the bodies, we will seek guidance from the embassies concerned about the bodies,” he said.

Published in Dawn, December 10th, 2016