PK-661: Foreign experts visit plane crash scene

French and Canadian experts collect samples and photographs

Muhammad Sadaqat December 14, 2016
Soldiers search for victims from the wreckage of the crashed PIA passenger plane Flight PK661 at the site near Abbottabad on December 7, 2016. PHOTO: AFP

ABBOTTABAD: A six-member team of foreign experts reached Havelian on Tuesday to investigate the reasons behind PK-661 crash that claimed 47 lives.

The team comprised of three French nationals – Pfeiffer Jerome, Pascal Epaule and Fablen Darsonval— while Mare Gratton, Stephen Vane Dudka and Jean Mare Ledoux were experts from Canada. The foreign experts were accompanied by a local team of investigators from Security Investigation Branch of Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), being headed by Group Captain Sultan.

“The experts stayed on the site for over five hours,” said Deputy Superintendent Police Havelian Khursheed Khan Tanoli. He added that the team arrived at Gagan Hills, amid tight security at around 10am and stayed there till 3.15pm.

He said that the experts collected different samples and took photographs of the site. Measurement of the location and samples of the soil were also taken to determine the causes of the deadly crash.

The Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) flight PK-661 crashed into a hillside after one of its two turboprop engines failed while travelling from the city of Chitral to the capital, and burst into flames killing everyone on board.

According to a villager the team of international experts spent more time with the front propeller of the plane and discussed their queries with the local team of investigators. However, the Punjab Rangers did not allow media near the foreign experts and stopped them at a distance from the crash site.

In response to a question, DSP Havelian said that he was not aware whether the foreign experts had completed their investigation.

Identification of victims

The Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) authorities requested relatives of PK-661 plane crash victims to provide details of the deceased for early identification of bodies.

In a statement on Tuesday, the national flag carrier asked families to email details of dental treatment, dental X-rays, colour of clothes or accessories the victims were wearing during their last flight.

Details will assist doctors working to identify the remaining bodies, the PIA statement said.

“This process of forensic odontology is being carried out parallel with DNA testing and can help in early identification.”

PIA chairman resigns

Azam Saigol has resigned from the post of PIA chairman on Monday.

“Muhammad Azam Saigol, Chairman PIACL has resigned and ceased to be the Director as well as Chairman of the Company with effect from December 12, 2016,” Younus M Khan, Company Secretary, said in a note to the Pakistan Stock Exchange on Tuesday.

It was a second resignation by member of the board of directors in a short span of couple of weeks. Earlier, Arif Habib, a businessman, resigned from the post of director.

Spokesman for the airline, Danyal Gilani, said Saigol has submitted resignation on personal grounds. Many, including officials of the airlines, linked his resignation with the recent crash.

Following a technical fault in another ATR at the Multan airport, CAA also temporarily barred PIA from operating all the 10 ATRs aircraft in its fleet.

“It has been decided to keep all 10 ATR aircraft grounded till they are cleared after thorough examination,” Gilani was quoted in a press release. (WITH INPUT FROM OUR CORRESPONDENT IN KARACHI)

Published in The Express Tribune, December 14th, 2016.



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