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Pakistan mourns aircrash victims

Published 29/07/2010

Pakistan is marking a national day of mourning after the largest plane crash in the country's history yesterday left no survivors.

Airblue flight 202 was carrying 152 people from Karachi to Islamabad when it crashed into the Margalla Hills on the northwest edge of the capital amid heavy rain and thick fog.

“There are no survivors,” Rehman Malik, the Interior Minister, told reporters.

Several hours after the crash, rescue workers were still combing through the devastation amid the heavily forested area in search of bodies. The plane had been carrying 146 passengers and six crew.

So far, 100 dead bodies have been recovered, but bad weather frustrated rescue efforts as nightfall was setting in.

“We have suspended the air operation because of rain,” a senior Islamabad official, Aamer Ali Ahmed, said. “There's no way to transport bodies from the site except via helicopters and even helicopters can't land there.”

Reasons for the crash have yet to be established. Mr Malik suggested that there was some confusion between air traffic control at Islamabad's Benazir Bhutto International airport and the pilot of the Airblue airline's Airbus A321.

But as a pall of gloom settles on Pakistan, troubling questions remain for the families of victims.

Given the bad weather, many have asked why the plane was not diverted, as two earlier flights had been.

Local news channels have also asked whether Pervez Iqbal Chaudhry, the plane’s captain, was too old to be flying.

Belfast Telegraph

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