Pakistan International Airlines on Thursday blamed engine failure for the horrific plane crash which claimed 48 lives, even as the country’s top civil aviation body launched a probe into the tragic accident.
The PIA plane PK-661 with 48 people, including pop singer-turned-Islamic preacher Junaid Jamshed, his wife and Deputy Commissioner Chitral Osama Warraich, on board crashed on Wednesday in Saddha Batolni village near Havelian while enroute to Islamabad from Chitral in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province.
According to the airline, the plane was an ATR-42 turboprop aircraft, which lost contact with the Air Traffic Control (ATC) at Islamabad’s Benazir International Airport en route from Chitral.
PIA Chairman Azam Saigol blamed engine failure for the deadly crash. “Around 4:15 PM the ATC received an emergency call from the pilot who informed them about the engine failure. A few minutes later, a mayday distress call was received from the pilot,” Saigol said.
The ATR-42 aircraft involved in the crash had undergone regular maintenance, including an ‘A-check’ certification in October, Saigol said.
“I want to make it clear that it was a perfectly sound aircraft,” Saigol said, ruling out technical or human error.
Pakistan authorities were conducting DNA testing to identify the victims of plane crash as most of the dead bodies were charred beyond recognition. According to rescue official Ghayoor Mushtaq, all bodies had been retrieved by 02:00 AM this morning and shifted to Ayub Medical Complex in Abbottabad.
A military official said three helicopters have been deputed to transport the bodies to Islamabad. They will be then moved to Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences in Islamabad and Combined Military Hospital in neighbouring Rawalpindi.
Dr. Junaid of Ayub Medical Complex said only six bodies were recognised while others will be identified through DNA matching. Jamshed, two Austrians, and a Chinese national were on the ill-fated PIA flight.