ISLAMABAD, April 21 (Xinhua) -- All passengers and the crew aboard a Pakistani plane that crashed near Islamabad yesterday evening have been declared dead after the rescue teams found the wreckage, the country's Interior Minister said Saturday.
The Boeing aircraft of private Bhoja airlines with 118 passengers and nine crew members crashed minutes before it was to be landed near the Islamabad International Airport apparently due to bad weather.
Interior Minister Rehman Malik confirmed all people on board have died and their bodies placed in the Islamabad's main hospital for identification.
Pakistan's aviation authorities and the airlines officials said the plane took off from the port city of Karachi at 5 p.m., and was to land at Islamabad's Benazir International airport at 7 p.m. The pilot lost contact with the control tower at 6:40 p.m., aviation officials said.
A special plane will airlift relatives of those killed in the air crash from Karachi who will be taken to the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences to identify the bodies. All bodies have been kept in boxes. Special counters have been set up to facilitate the relatives.
Officials from National Database and Registration Authority will be present to help in the identification of the bodies. DNA tests are also being carried out for identification as most of the bodies are mutilated and difficult to be identified.
President Asif Ali Zardari has ordered an inquiry into the second worst air crash in Pakistan in less than two years and that the report be submitted to the presidency, presidential spokesman said.
The investigation team will visit the crash site in a couple of hours to formally begin inquiry into the second worst air crash near Islamabad in less than two years. Rescuers said that the wreckage had spread over one kilometer area. The rescuers faced problem in search operations due to non-availability of lights in the crash site.
Doctors said that nearly 20 passengers have been identified and bodies of some of them have been handed over to relatives who belonged to the nearby areas.
The crash has raised many questions and local TV channels are holding debate as to why the plane was given permission to take off from Karachi and to land in Islamabad in bad weather.
The Bhoja Airlines officials claimed that the plane Boeing-737 was fit for flight and aviation officials said the plane was 27 years old.
The government has put name of the owner of the airlines on the Exit Control List (ECL) as part of the investigation, the Interior Minister said. He said several other officials of the airlines have been barred from leaving the country. It was maiden flight of the airlines from Karachi to Islamabad after it recently re- launched operations after years of suspension due to financial constraints.
Aviation sources said that a black box flight recorder from the plane has been recovered by search teams. Recovery of the black box has raised hopes of understanding what really caused the crash.
The data recorder was handed over to the Pakistan Air Force for investigations, officials said. All record of control tower and radar systems at the Islamabad airport was sealed to listen to the conversation between the pilot and aviation officials, officials said.
Residents at the crash site said they had seen fire at the plane before it came down. Some said they heard a huge blast as the plane hit residential area, some 10 kilometers away from the Islamabad airport. Witnesses said that at least ten houses were damaged but there was no casualty on the ground.