The PFSA team has come to investigate the aircraft specifics, not the bodies, says Sindh health minister
The Sindh government has prohibited the Punjab Forensic Science Agency (PFSA) from taking DNA samples from the bodies of passengers aboard PIA’s flight PK-8303, which had crashed on Friday afternoon near Karachi’s Jinnah International Airport, Geo News reported citing sources.
The PIA Airbus A-320 jet with 99 people onboard, of whom two miraculously survived, had crashed into a crowded residential area after twice trying to land at the airport. The actual reason for the crash remains unknown as the investigations remain underway.
Sources in the PFSA informed Geo News that upon the request of Punjab, Sindh had permitted the agency to collect samples of a senior bureaucrat, Khalid Sher Dil. Meanwhile, the agency has also taken blood samples of the deceased government official’s brother and mother.
Until all the bodies have undergone a DNA test, it won’t be possible to hand them over to their actual heirs, sources said.
The PFSA had reached Karachi after orders from the Punjab government on Saturday, sources said.
Minister for Health and Population Welfare Dr Azra Fazal Pechuho has said that Sindh has its own Forensic/Genome Lab at Karachi University where the DNA sampling of all the unidentified plane crash victims will take place.
“We also have a lab at Liaquat University Jamshoro,” Pechuho said.
She said that the team that arrived from Punjab has come to investigate the aircraft specifics, not the bodies.
“Sindh is capable of conducting the DNA sampling and the Governor [Imran Ismail] should not politicise such a tragedy by giving out statements without having complete knowledge,” she further said.
Meanwhile, an investigation team of the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) reached the site of the crash today where it began the process of collecting forensic samples.
The debris of the plane, cars, and homes will be removed stepwise after the forensic team completes its task.
Furthermore, law enforcement agencies have cordoned off the site as rescue operations remain underway.
Separately, Sindh Rangers spokesperson said that the passengers' belongings, including electronic items, mobile phones, gold, artificial jewellry, and expensive stuff, recovered from the crash site had been handed over to PIA officials.
At least Rs30 million, 70 pounds, and 625 dollars were recovered as well, while a list of the recovered items has also been drafted, the spokesperson added.
Sindh government said that 34 bodies have been identified and all of those have been handed over to the families.
In addition, Chippa rescue personnel have said that 31 dead bodies have been identified so far, while at least 44 corpses were brought in the morgue out of which 14 have been handed over to the family and 29 remain unidentified.
A spokesperson for Edhi welfare said that 53 bodies had been brought in the organisation’s morgue from which 12 have been handed over to the family, four will be handed over later today, while 37 remain unidentified.
A day earlier, PIA Spokesperson Abdullah Khan said that the process of identification and handing over bodies to the families is underway.
Abdullah Khan said that according to PIA laws, the families will get Rs500,000 in compensation.
The spokesman said that the airline’s district managers will visit the homes of crash victims and issue compensation for the burial process.
Prime Minster Imran Khan had issued special directives under which one million rupees per deceased person will be given separately to the heirs of the victims.
Air crash investigators are trying to figure out if the PIA flight PK-8303 crash incident is attributable to a pilot error or technical fault, with new information giving rise to fresh questions regarding the circumstances of the incident, The News reports.
It is believed that a full report can be made public in three months. Meanwhile, a preliminary report has raised questions about the pilot's handling of the incident and what prevented the cockpit from informing air traffic controllers at the Jinnah International Airport about the plane's troubles.
According to the report, prepared by the CAA, the plane's engines had scraped the runway thrice on the pilot's first attempt to land the plane, causing friction and sparks. Three long marks have been observed and recorded by the CAA's experts on the runway.
According to sources in the CAA, the plane's engines first made contact with the ground at the 4,500 feet marker, followed a second time at the 5,500 feet marker and a third time at the 7,000 feet marker. However, though the engines touched the ground, the aircraft's belly at no point to make contact with the runway.
After the third impact, the pilot took the aircraft off into the air again, which officials found very strange as the cockpit did not inform air traffic control of any problem with the landing gear when it was already clear that it was the reason why it couldn't land properly.