KARACHI: The work of foreign investigators visiting Pakistan to collect and analyse evidence about the May 22 plane crash in Karachi is nearing completion and they will be leaving for France shortly.
An 11-member team of experts of Airbus, the manufacturer of the ill-fated A320, arrived in Karachi on May 26 to offer technical assistance in a probe into the crash of flight PK-8303 that claimed lives of 97 passengers and crew members. Only two passengers had survived the air crash.
The team alongside their Pakistani counterparts from the Aircraft Accident and Investigation Board (AAIB) continued their work on Saturday and, according to a tweet from France’s Bureau of Enquiry and Analysis for Civil Aviation Safety (BEA), “the mission on site is about to be completed”.
The team will take with it the flight data recorder (FDR) and cockpit voice recorder (CVR), the two components of the plane’s ‘black box’, to France to decode it in a bid to know the events that led to the crash of the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) aircraft.
Twenty-three bodies of air crash victims remain to be identified.
A member of the AAIB along with the French team is due to leave for France on Monday as per standard practice for such probes, according to an official.
The BEA said in its tweet that after completion of the task the visiting team that comprises experts from BEA, Airbus and engine manufacturing companies Safran Aircraft Engines and CFM International along with “Pakistan’s AAIB will then fly to France”.
The tweet also said that “technical work on FDR and CVR” of the ill-fated aircraft would begin in France on June 2.
When a Twitter user asked how long the repair and download process of CVR and FDR typically takes, the BEA replied: “Minimum several days.”
The French air safety organisation thanked the AAIB for “the coordination, organisation and support provided” to the French experts.
The BEA also tweeted a photograph of the French and Pakistani investigators that it later clarified was not taken at the site of the crash but in front of a hangar where parts useful for investigation purposes were stored.
74 bodies identified
Twenty-three bodies of the crash victims have yet to be identified through DNA testing as a total of 74 bodies had been identified till Saturday night.
A PIA spokesperson said that 63 bodies had been handed over to their families for burial.
Sindh government’s spokesperson and chief minister’s law adviser Murtaza Wahab said that seven bodies had been identified by a laboratory in Punjab while a Karachi University lab had identified 22 bodies through DNA testing.
“So far, a total of 34 DNA cross-match analyses have been completed at the Sindh Forensic DNA and Serology Laboratory (SFDL) and their reports have been dispatched to the Sindh police department. The whole process would be completed by tomorrow night,” said an official of KU’s International Centre for Chemical and Biological Sciences.
He said that efforts were going on to identify the remaining victims at the earliest.
The airline has been providing Rs1 million to each affected family for making arrangements for the burial of their loved ones.
On Saturday, PIA sent six bodies, including those of First Officer Usman Azam, Flight Steward Abdul Qayyum Ashraf and Airhostess Amna Irfan, from Karachi to Lahore, where PIA employees offered their funeral prayers at the apron amid moving scenes, the spokesperson said.
He said that the body of Pilot Usman Azam was wrapped in the national flag.
The funeral prayers for another crash victim, Squadron Leader Zain Ul Arif Khan was offered at the PAF Faisal Base and he was laid to rest with full military honours at the PAF graveyard in Korangi Creek.
He was posted at the Air Headquarters, Islamabad, and was travelling to Karachi to celebrate Eid with his parents. His remains were identified with the help of DNA testing before handover to the PAF authorities for burial.
Deputy Chief of the Air Staff (Engineering) Air Vice Marshal Ahmad Hassan and Air Officer Commanding Southern Air Command Air Vice Marshal Abbas Ghumman, along with a large number of PAF personnel, civil and military officials and relatives of the martyred officer attended the funeral.
The funeral prayers for senior journalist Syed Ansar Naqvi, whose body was identified on Friday, were offered at a mosque at Askari IV, Gulistan-i-Jauhar. A large number of journalists and other media personnel attended the funeral.
Shazia Hasan and Faiza Ilyas also contributed to this report
Published in Dawn, May 31st, 2020