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May 24, 2020

Govt vows impartial probe into plane crash within 3 months

Top Story

 
May 24, 2020

Ag INP

­ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Aviation Ghulam Sarwar Khan pledged on Saturday a “transparent” inquiry within three months into the PIA plane crash in Karachi a day earlier that left 97 passengers and crew dead – with two survivors.

“The government will make this investigation public as well as all the previous investigations of aviation disasters,” the minister promised at a news conference here alongside Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) CEO Arshad Malik here.

Sarwar said an impartial inquiry would be conducted into the crash of PIA flight PK-8303 in Karachi’s Model Colony area and whoever was found responsible would be punished. The minister further said they were ready to present themselves for accountability if the inquiry team found the aviation ministry responsible for the incident.

Giving an update on the rescue and relief efforts, the minister said a special forensic team from Lahore had reached Karachi, adding 21 bodies had been handed over to the families. He announced a compensation of Rs1 million for families of the plane crash victims, while, he added, the wounded would be given Rs500,000.

Referring to the recent air crashes in Chitral and Gilgit, Sarwar said the delay in probe of those incidents was akin to “justice delayed is justice denied”. “It is an institutional weakness if the investigation reports are not finalised and not made public.”

The inquiry board had started its work, he said, adding: “team of experts from Airbus, Germany and France will also join the probe.” “We will try to complete it [probe] within three months,” said the minister.

Sarwar said if the inquiry proved dereliction of duty by the PIA chief executive and himself, then they would resign and submit themselves for accountability. He said currently, the priority was to hand over bodies of the victims to the families.

Answering a question, the minister said the pilot did not inform the control tower about a crash landing. The pilot tried his level best to limit the damage at the time of the unfortunate incident, he added.

The minister said 1,500 acres land of the Civil Aviation Authority was encroached upon in Karachi. “These mistakes were committed by the previous regimes which we try to correct.

“High-rises are banned near the airports,” the minister said. “Action will be taken if illegal constructions are found within airport premises.” He said the government would approach the chief justice on the land encroachment issue. Meanwhile, the flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder of the PIA Airbus 320 jetliner had been recovered from the crash site, a spokesperson for the airline said on Saturday.

The PIA Airbus jet with 99 people aboard crashed Friday afternoon after twice trying to land at the Karachi airport. Two passengers miraculously survived the incident.

Shortly after the incident, Prime Minister Imran Khan vowed to institute an inquiry immediately. An investigation team under Air Commodore Usman Ghani had been constituted which would “furnish its report” to the Aviation Division “within the shortest possible time”, according to a notification issued by the division. “A preliminary statement will be issued within one month,” added the notification.