PAKISTAN: Information Minister says bad weather and difficult terrain hampering rescue efforts after plane crashRecord ID: 382046
- Title: PAKISTAN: Information Minister says bad weather and difficult terrain hampering rescue efforts after plane crash
- Date: 29th July 2010
- Summary: BURQA-CLAD RELATIVES OF CRASH VICTIMS COMING OUT OF AIRPORT LOUNGE
- Reuters ID: LVAA6K5BG7IV8PQKFOI0CSZKQ1FE
- Location: Pakistan
- Country: Pakistan
- Duration: 00:00:07
- Topics: Disasters / Accidents / Natural catastrophes,Transport
- Story Text: Rescue and recovery workers on Wednesday (July 28) called off operations on the hills above Islamabad as night fell in the wake of the crash of a Pakistani passenger plane in heavy rain earlier in the day that killed all 152 people on board.
At an evening press conference, Federal Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira said that bad weather and difficult terrain above the city had hampered search and rescue efforts.
"Helicopters were called (for the rescue work). At first we called in big helicopters so that evacuation could take place on a larger scale but conditions were so difficult that we had to call in smaller helicopters," a visibly exhausted Kaira said.
He said so far 115 bodies have been recovered, adding "unfortunately, no one survived."
The remains were badly damaged in the crash and DNA tests would be used to identify the victims, he said, and asked for patience from family members.
The Airbus 321, belonging to private airline Airblue, crashed into a heavily wooded and hard-to-access hillside while flying from the southern port city of Karachi.
Rescuers said they had to dig through the rubble with their bare hands, with fire and thick smoke hampering their work. The fire has since been extinguished but access to the hillside remained limited to pedestrians and helicopters.
Asked about concerns over wild animals getting to the unrecovered dead bodies at night, Kaira said rescue teams would keep vigil at the crash site throughout the night.
"Our rescue teams are deployed there (overnight); their movements will deter wild animals. Of course we all want more to be done - and more should be done - but in that difficult terrain, in this bad weather, whatever was possible these (rescue) people have done that. We should appreciate that," Kaira said.
While thick fog and rainy weather are considered the most likely reasons for the crash, Kaira declined to rule out sabotage, and said all possibilities would be investigated.
Distraught family members arrived Islamabad late Wednesday (July 28) to identify the bodies of their relatives. Family members of the victims cried bitterly as they exited their flight.
One man who had lost two uncles, two brothers and two sisters-in-law in the crash.
"It is nobody's fault. It was Allah's will. I had eight people (on the plane)," he told reporters.
Two Americans were among the victims, a U.S. embassy spokesman told Reuters.
Prime Minister Yusaf Raza Gilani declared Thursday (July 29) a national day or mourning and ordered national flags to fly at half-mast.
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