With prayers on their lips and stones in their hearts, the relatives of the Bhoja Air crash victims came to receive coffins at the Karachi airport on Saturday.
By around 10 pm, 27 bodies had reached the Jinnah International Airport Karachi. Eight more were expected late in the night via PIA and Airblue flights. The bodies were brought to the cargo section of Jinnah terminal, where ambulances sped away, while different charitable oragnisations jostled with each other to transport the caskets home.
Those who went to Islamabad to bring back the remains of their loved ones had to pay more than Rs5,000 per head in cargo charges. “I paid Rs5,550 to bring back my relative’s remains in an emergency,” said one bereaved person.
Another grieving relative, Abdul Manan, paid Rs12,000 to fly back his aunt and brother’s remains. According to him, they had to pay for the tickets too. The body of Manan’s brother was among the first batch of six brought via PIA’s PK301 on Saturday afternoon.
The remains of Imran Waheed, Muhammad Irfan, Tasleem Begum, Raza Ali and Abdul Aziza also came on this flight.
Sheeza cried as she received her father, Chand Babu’s body. He was going to Peshawar but decided to spend a night at his daughter’s in Islamabad. “He always used to travel PIA,” said Sheeza. “I don’t know why he chose Bhoja.”
Babu was a resident of Pakland Housing Society and was the father of nine. According to his sister, only the lower half of his body could be found.
A flight attendant working for Bhoja Air said that her colleague Ghazala was one of the best workers in the airline. “She had 15 years of experience and was my senior.” She said that Ghazala had called her on Friday before the plane took off. “That was rare, because she never called me.”
Meanwhile, the staff of Bhoja Air was sad that they lost the best of their workers. Muhammad Umair, a sales representative, said, that the captain of the flight, Noorullah Afridi, was the most experienced. The general manager of operations, Hammad Zia, was also on the flight. “It is a big loss for us.” He said that the son of Arshad Jaleel, who is the director management information systems, also planned to travel but had cancelled his flight.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 22nd, 2012.