ISLAMABAD: The district administration and officials at the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (Pims) said on Monday that they will conduct tests on samples already collected from the crew of Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) flight PK-661 to check whether they had been drugged.
The statement came after directives from the Aviation Division to exhume bodies of the flight crew to carry out the necessary tests came to light on Monday. On December 7, 2016, a French-built ATR-42, was flying from Chitral to Islamabad when it crashed into a hillside in Havelian, killing all 47 people on board. The victims included singer-turned-preacher Junaid Jamshed, his wife and the Chitral deputy commissioner.
In a letter written by District Health Officer on December 23 to officials at Pims, the officer had requested an autopsy of the two pilots, two flight attendants and one flight officer who were on board flight PK-661. The district health officer had asked for the procedure to ascertain whether the crew had been intoxicated, as required by the investigation board.
The Pims administration, however, denied receiving any written orders to carry out the tests so far. Hospital officials, though, said that they had retained samples from the bodies to carry out the necessary tests.
“It is routine that after every aircraft accident …we have retained samples of all the bodies as a reference and we can run whatsoever tests which the Civil Aviation Authority wishes and there is no need to exhume the bodies at all,” said Professor Dr Javed Akram, the vice chancellor of Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto Medical University (SZABMU), on Monday. Pims is an attached hospital of SZABMU.
After the crash in Havelian, and an acute shortage of space in the mortuary at the Ayub Teaching Hospital in Abbottabad, officials had decided to move all 47 bodies to Pims in Islamabad. There, after completing the necessary formalities and taking samples to carry out DNA tests, the bodies had been moved to a cold-storage facility in Rawat.
Deputy Commissioner Mushtaq Ahmad, meanwhile, said on Monday that the letter to exhume bodies of the two pilots, one flight officer and two flight attendants had been withdrawn and that the hospital had been asked to conduct drug tests on samples which the hospital had already taken.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 17th, 2017.