Belfast Telegraph

Friday 22 August 2014

Pakistan mourns plane crash victims

Relatives mourn the deaths of their family members killed in a plane crash, outside a local hospital in Islamabad. (AP)
Pakistani rescuers surround the wreckage of a plane that crashed in Islamabad. (AP)
A rescuer sorts through the wreckage of a passenger jet which crashed into the hills surrounding Islamabad (AP)

Pakistan is observing a day of mourning after an airliner crashed on its approach to an airport, killing all 152 on board.

The Airblue Airbus flew into the hills surrounding the capital Islamabad in poor weather.

The exact cause of the crash was not immediately clear and rescue workers were seeking the "black box" flight data recorder amid the wreckage.

A rescue official said: "It is a great tragedy, and I confirm it with pain that there are no survivors."

The plane left Karachi at 7.45am for a two-hour scheduled flight to Islamabad. Airblue is a private service based in Karachi, Pakistan's largest city, and the flight was believed to be carrying mostly Pakistanis.

The Pakistan Airline Pilot Association said the plane appeared to have strayed off course, possibly because of the poor weather. An airline spokesman said the plane was no more than eight years old, it had no known technical issues and the pilots did not make any emergency calls.

As of Wednesday night, when rescue work was suspended till the morning, 115 bodies had been recovered, federal information minister Qamar Zaman Kaira said. DNA tests would be needed to identify most of them, he said.

As the government declared Thursday would be a day of mourning and condolences poured in from abroad, hundreds of people showed up at Islamabad's largest hospital and the airport seeking information on loved ones.

They swarmed ambulances reaching the hospital but their hopes fell as rescue workers unloaded bags filled with body parts. A large cluster of people also surrounded a passenger list posted near the Airblue counter at the airport.

"We don't know who survived, who died, who is injured," said Zulfikar Ghazi, who lost four relatives. "We are in shock."

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