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quinta-feira, 29 de julho de 2010

Rain dampens rescue efforts in Pakistani plane crash as nation mourns

Rescue workers search the wreckage of an Airblue passenger plane which crashed on the outskirts of Islamabad July 28, 2010. A Pakistani passenger plane crashed in heavy rain near Islamabad on Wednesday, killing all 152 people on board, officials said, in the worst aviation accident in Pakistan. (Xinhua/Reuters Photo)

By Syed Moazzam Hashmi

ISLAMABAD, July 29 (Xinhua)-- Nature joins the aggrieved Pakistani nation Thursday that mourns the death of 152 people killed in Wednesday's passenger plane crash in the capital city Islamabad, as desperate relatives were frustrated because search for a dozen more missing bodies was seriously compromised due to heavy monsoon rains.

There was not a single eye that did not burst into tears when three bodies including a newly-wed couple arrived in Karachi early Thursday morning. Five more bodies are also being sent by air to Karachi, an aviation sources told Xinhua.

Submerged deep into grief and sorrow many others awaiting relatives did not wink an eye the whole night still frustrated around airports and hospitals for news about their perished loved ones. The funeral prayers in absentia (an Islamic faith observance to pay homage to dead) has also been offered across the country.

Some relatives of the victims protested at the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS), Islamabad, on Thursday morning for delay in handing over of bodies of their relatives. Most remained clueless even after traveling long distances to Islamabad about the remains of their relatives.

"We spent an uncomfortable night under the open raining sky after traveling to Islamabad," complained Mubashir, whose sobbing red eyes matched all others around at the PIMS hospital. "We have been asked to run around to morgue in one corner and for DNA test to the other," he added.

All onboard 152 people including six crew members were perished when the private airliners Airbus-321 medium sized jet crashed a minute after it lost communication with airport's control tower at 9:43 a.m. local time into the wooded Margalla hills surrounding the northeast of Islamabad on Wednesday amid heavy rains and dense fog.

The ill-fated flight also carried two Americans, a spokesman of the United States embassy in Islamabad confirmed with Xinhua.

Some 138 bodies were brought to PIMS after being airlifted by seven Pakistani military helicopters that supplemented the rescue efforts on Wednesday widely participated by an infantry battalion troops, firefighters, politicians and local residents.

After completing postmortem on 112 bodies, 94 were shifted to morgue, hospital sources said, adding that 55 bodies were handed over to their relatives after identification. However, rest of agonizing relatives would have to wait for a week until the DNA test results to identify the torn body parts of the victims.

The "Black Box" of flight ED-202 also could not be found, Pakistani information minister Qamar Zaman Kaira admitted before the media after conflicting statements about the recovery and subsequent decoding of the much need equipment to explore the cause of the crash. The minister also announced half a million rupees compensation for each victim of the crash.

Pakistani Defense Minister Ahmed Mukhtar, who took an aerial view of the site along with Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani and chief ministers of the four provinces on the day of incident, also joined the latest official chorus on the missing informative equipment.

Despite heavy rains, with masks wrapped over their noses, a 35- member team search and rescue team of capital city's municipal authority is still searching for the Black Box and remains of the remaining victims in a saddened atmosphere filled with smells of blood, decomposing and burned human body parts at the site of the plane crash in the foothills of Margalla hills.

"Black Box can help us in the investigation," Interior minister Rehman Malik said as a 6-member investigation committee has been formed to investigate the incident that is keeping the white and green crescent and star studded Pakistani flag at the half mast, as both Prime Minister Gilani and President Asif Ali Zardari announced Thursday as a day of mourning in the Islamic nation



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