Foreign team completes its task in air crash probe

Published June 1, 2020
Police register a report about the incident. — AFP/File
Police register a report about the incident. — AFP/File

KARACHI / RAWALPINDI: The visiting team of French experts sent here a week ago by Airbus to assist in the PK-8303 crash probe will be returning to France on Monday (today) after completing their assignment.

Ninety-seven passengers and crewmembers were killed and two miraculously survived when a Pakistan International Airlines’ (PIA) A320 aircraft crashed in the densely populated Model Colony area near Karachi airport on May 22.

The Bureau of Enquiry and Analysis for Civil Aviation Safety (BEA), France, had announced on Saturday the French team along with a member of the Pakistani Aircraft Accident and Investigation Board (AAIB) would go to France and the work to decode the ill-fated plane’s ‘black box’ would begin on Tuesday.

The French team comprises experts belonging to Airbus, BEA and engine manufacturing companies Safran Aircraft Engines and CFM International.

Police register a report about the incident

A Civil Aviation Authority official told Dawn on Sunday the visiting team had completed its task that included a detailed survey and examination of the crash site, runway, air-traffic control operations, engine parts and other equipment, locating of cockpit voice recorder (CVR) as well as digitally documenting all available evidence.

He said that the remaining wreckage of the aircraft and debris were being removed from the crash site and work to repair/construct the damaged houses in Jinnah Garden’s street would begin shortly.

Bodies identified

A PIA spokesperson said that by Sunday evening a total of 79 bodies of the plane crash victims had been identified and 78 of them handed over to their relatives for burial.

A Karachi University laboratory conducting DNA testing announced that the process to identify bodies would be completed in the next 24 hours.

The Sindh Forensic DNA and Serology Laboratory (SFDL) at the University of Karachi had completed a total of 37 DNA cross-matches so far, and their reports had also been dispatched to the Sindh Police.

A spokesman for the International Centre for Chemical and Biological Sciences (ICCBS) said: “SFDL with the help of 20 scientists and volunteers is currently engage in massive undertaking of identifying bodies of unfortunate victims of the air crash.”

Police lodge report

The Model Colony police station has registered a report and started collecting relevant evidence for completing legal formalities in the case.

According to a senior official of the Sindh Police, an incident report (670) has been registered with the Model Colony police, but no formal FIR has been lodged.

The report said that “on May 22, 2020, at about 1437 hours an incident of plane crash” took place in the Model Colony area. “The plane probably due to some technical fault crashed over residential area namely Jinnah Garden Kazimabad, Model Colony, Karachi; resultantly about 12 houses (and) some cars were damaged and heavy human casualties reported,” the report said.

The report, signed by SSP Korangi, was sent to senior police officials, including Inspector General of Police Mushtaq Mahar. Police said an FIR is lodged only when a criminal act is involved in an incident. “If there will be any criminal aspect in the inquiry, then it would be converted into a formal FIR,” said a senior police official.

On May 29, a district court had directed the Model Colony SHO to conduct an inquiry on an application seeking registration of a case against Aviation Minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan, PIA chief Arshad Malik and key officers over the PK-8303 crash. The SHO was told to file a detailed report in this regard on June 2.

Advocate Qadir Khan Mandokhel had filed a petition seeking a directive for the SSP East and the SHO to book the aviation minister, the PIA chief and others for their alleged negligence in checking the ill-fated plane before allowing it to fly.

In the plea, the applicant stated that it was the responsibility of the ground engineer and other team members at the Allama Iqbal airport, Lahore, to inspect the plane and stop it from flying if it had any technical fault, “but they failed to complete such formalities and take necessary steps”.

Published in Dawn, June 1st, 2020

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