Bhoja Air crash: 'Acceleration at low height caused mid-air explosion'

Published: April 21, 2012
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Initial investigation report from air traffic control reveals plane's rapid descend caused fuel tank to burst. PHOTO: REUTERS/FILE

Initial investigation report from air traffic control reveals plane's rapid descend caused fuel tank to burst. PHOTO: REUTERS/FILE

An initial investigation report compiled with information received from air traffic control has revealed that the Bhoja Air plane was flying at 500km per hour which caused the fuel tank to burst, resulting in a mid-air explosion, scattering debris for miles around, Express News reported on Saturday.

The plane, which was in landing position, should have been at 1,500 to 1,700ft above ground and was only at 200ft and was travelling at 500km, Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) sources said.

The plane was 10km away from the runway, considering this, the plane was flying too low and too fast to make the landing, sources told Express News.

According to the initial investigation report, the last words the co-pilot said to air traffic control were “I have lost control of the plane”, after which they lost contact with the plane at around three minutes before crash.

Sources said that this report was not made with information from the black box and was just a result of initial investigations conducted.

Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira, talking to the media, vowed that the investigation into the crash will be done as soon as possible. “We will make sure that there is no human delay… We will try to arrange for the compensation as well.”

When asked about the investigation of the Airblue crash, Kaira said that the investigation was done and the report was presented to the public too, now it is up to them whether they want to believe the report or not.

“AirBlue belongs to our opponent party, why would we have hidden the truth?” he questioned and added that before the details of the Bhoja crash come, everything will be ‘just speculations’.

He announced that the CAA will hold a press conference at 4pm and further added that 115 bodies of the crash victims have been identified.

The passenger flight travelling from Karachi to Islamabad carrying 121 passengers and six crew members came hurtling down towards the outskirts of Rawalpindi at 6:46pm on Friday evening.

Among the passengers were five infants and six children. There were no survivors.

Bhoja Air’s aged B737-200 took off from Karachi airport at 5:05pm and crashed five nautical miles from Islamabad airport on the village of Hussainabad. However, rescuers said people on the ground remained largely safe as the bulk of the wreckage fell in an open area.

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Reader Comments (49)

  • Faraz
    Apr 21, 2012 - 12:50PM

    The plane caught fire midair, which points to something being wrong with the aircraft, I just hope they don’t blame the weather here ((wind shear) or the pilots , wind shear doesn’t cause a plane to explode in mid-air.

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  • ishrat salim
    Apr 21, 2012 - 1:07PM

    We do not seem to learn from our mistakes as we hv no values for human lives ( till today no crash reports made public ?…may Allah swt bless these unfortunate passengers & crews & give strength to their families to bear this tragic lossRecommend

  • Baba Ji
    Apr 21, 2012 - 1:26PM

    Oh come on all you aviation experts of Dhok khabba and Laal Kurti !!!! We are Pakistanis and we know everything … plus note all the “tamashbeens” at the accident site and in the hospitals …

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  • M.Salman Nisar
    Apr 21, 2012 - 1:35PM

    So Mistake of Pilot Again ?

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  • Sonya
    Apr 21, 2012 - 1:39PM

    The Tehrik Taliban Pakistan member group Ghazi Abdul Rasheed Shaheed (the Lal Masjid Moulvi) Trust are busy building a huge madressah and mosque on a piece of land donated by the management of Jinnah Gardens only few yards from the crash site. Future landings also not guranteed?

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  • Meekal Ahmed
    Apr 21, 2012 - 1:42PM

    If there had been a “mid-air explosion” the wreckage would have been widely scattered.

    Where do these people get these fantastic theories from?!

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  • American Pakistani
    Apr 21, 2012 - 1:43PM
  • Aviator
    Apr 21, 2012 - 1:47PM

    May This Time Victims and their families get Justice!

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  • Sharjeel Jawaid, Karachi, Pakistan
    Apr 21, 2012 - 1:50PM

    Incompetence of CAA!
    Bhoja Airlines operate Machines [Planes] which are more that 25 years old.
    They have outlived their design life. Newsweek caaried an article recently on the Boeing 737 fuselage failures due to metal fatigue. Boeing 7337-200 used by Bhoja comes from the late sixties! Thanks to Democracy!

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  • Yash
    Apr 21, 2012 - 1:59PM

    @Meekal Ahmed:

    explosion doesnt necessarily mean the plane should tear apart….

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  • Pakistani
    Apr 21, 2012 - 1:59PM

    @Meekal Ahmed:
    If u look at the tv the debris are scattered. Soooo sad

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  • Pakistani
    Apr 21, 2012 - 2:09PM

    @Sonya:
    Wats the point of making this comment here. This is pathetic.

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  • Pakistani
    Apr 21, 2012 - 2:17PM

    Also it is important to note that a PIA plane landed 20 mins before this crash.

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  • Imran Ahmed
    Apr 21, 2012 - 2:40PM

    @ faraz, this plane was flying for 2 months, now all of a sudden it caught fire in a storm and ofcourse you are saying dont blame weather? comeon man get real. lightning has caused aircraft crashed before as well by igniting the vapor or fuel in the tanks. so lets not discard weather hazard.
    sad to see this event politicized may the heirs of deceased get justice, and may Allah Subhanahu Wa Taala grant deceased high place in paradise!

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  • Apr 21, 2012 - 2:49PM

    All of the landings on Chaklala airport are from east side because they have ILS on that side, Why dot this inept government installs an other ILS on west end of the runway so that the pilot has a choice to use other side in case there is bad weather on eastern side of the approach area?

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  • Faraz
    Apr 21, 2012 - 2:58PM

    @Imran Ahmed:
    lightening does not cause planes to crash if you anything about aviation. Aircrafts are made to handle lightening unless of course it’s an old ageing aircraft with an expired fuselage. Clearly, something was wrong, that’s why it crashed, no other plane did in the same area, if weather is to be blamed, only the real experts can tell.

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  • Meekal Ahmed
    Apr 21, 2012 - 3:03PM

    @Sajjad:

    Because it is not worth it at this late stage with the new airport under construction near Fatehjang.

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  • Hakeem
    Apr 21, 2012 - 3:03PM

    40+ year old aircraft whose air worthiness is questionable points to corrupt government, CAA, MoD and Ministry of Interior, PM and President are responsible for this disaster!!

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  • Faraz
    Apr 21, 2012 - 3:04PM

    @Meekal Ahmed:
    There are reports of pieces of plane found scattered over an area of 1KM and eyewitness accounts of the plane engulfed by fire, midair. Could wind shear cause a plane to catch fire? I don’t know but I just hope weather/pilots are not made the scapegoat here. I am not suggesting anything.

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  • Muhammad
    Apr 21, 2012 - 3:23PM

    @Sonya:

    Please talk some sense … or else keep quiet !

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  • farhana
    Apr 21, 2012 - 3:28PM

    aoa

    my tributes to all family members of the passengers!!!
    Very sad incidence took place yesterday,
    how do we define the cause???
    Raza of ALLAH????????
    Will the pilot be forgiven and his death be a shahadat????
    or
    will he be punished for the murder of all passenger and members of staff????
    or
    Do we just accept that ALLAH has power to give and take life,
    so
    All the passengers on board were gathered together, as of the wish of ALLAH
    and it were meant to be like this.
    May ALLAH give the famillies peace and strength to fight through this diificult time, as no word can sympathise enough.

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  • malik
    Apr 21, 2012 - 3:32PM

    Have you checked with TTP whether they are involved in this in any way ?

    If they say, ,”No, this time we didn’t do it,” then it can be safely said that they are innocent. If they ask in reply, “Where is the proof that we did this ?” then certainly, they are the one responsible for this.

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  • Aadi
    Apr 21, 2012 - 3:34PM

    :-((((((((

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  • imran malik
    Apr 21, 2012 - 4:07PM

    Simply negligence from CAA, Minister of Defence, Secretary Defence. All should get FIRE immediately!!!!
    imran malik

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  • Meekal Ahmed
    Apr 21, 2012 - 4:29PM

    @Faraz:

    Never trust “eye-witness” accounts. They are notoriously un-reliable and if there are more than one, they often contradict each other.

    If there were low clouds and it was raining hard, what was this “witness” doing standing out in the rain? Was he looking up at the sky and why? Did he see the plane through the clouds?

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  • muhammad siddique
    Apr 21, 2012 - 4:53PM

    investigation should be on urgent basis just

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  • maz3tt
    Apr 21, 2012 - 4:58PM

    ”We will try to arrange for the compensation as well”. Well i counted 20 to 30 vehicles some times back when the traffic was stopped due to VVIP movement and i am sure that was not the pm or president. Selling one or two high fi car in that parade could give them the compensation. they can’t never get their priorities right. what the pity.

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  • sharjeel
    Apr 21, 2012 - 5:06PM

    may be jamming devices activated either on fear of threat to President House or American Embassy or false alarms/activation, just like it happened with the blue air poor bird… most experienced pilots are making basic human errors at the time of landing???

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  • Meekal Ahmed
    Apr 21, 2012 - 5:28PM

    @sharjeel:

    “just like happened in the blue air poor bird”?

    It is Air Blue and not Blue Air.

    Third, have you read the accident report? It is on the CAA web-site. It is technical but you will get the gist of it, I am sure.

    No jamming, no hijack, no fasting, no Blackwater, no missiles from the US Embassy and no guns going off from Kahuta. Recommend

  • Beatle
    Apr 21, 2012 - 5:51PM

    @Hakeem:
    You forgot to include Governor. Mind it that accident occured in Punjab.

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  • Ch Allah Daad
    Apr 21, 2012 - 6:00PM

    So far, this accident resembles a Delta Airline flight number 191 crash which was also very close to landing strip and caught in erratic stormy winds, called meteorological phenomenon known as microburst-induced wind shear which was declared a direct contributing factor of crash. That plane also accelerated without pilots touching any system, lost control, hit first a highway near airport, killing one car driver, rose again,in air, caught fire and burst into flames and crashed. Whole detail of Delta crash is well documented, please read it on internet. Thanks.

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  • Faraz
    Apr 21, 2012 - 6:31PM

    @Meekal Ahmed:
    are you talking sense here?? air crash investigations worldwide depend upon eye witness accounts. That’s the most basic input. I don’t know what people were doing there, they could have seen the plane from inside the building, who knows? a big jet coming down to earth would catch anybody’s attention!! you don’t need to be watching the sky for that! Your arguments are fantastically ridiculous. Go watch Air crash investigation on youtube and you will have some common sense.

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  • Jeremy
    Apr 21, 2012 - 7:36PM

    @ Faraz.

    If you go and rewatch air crash investigation, you will see that they do not fully trust eye witness reports.
    Watch the investigation regarding the Korean Air Cargo 747 that crashed out of England. There was two eye witness reports, and both said the plane was on fire.

    Turned out it was the landing lights. Remember the weather in this crash, the plane will be tossed around and rain will be all over the landing light lenses. Very easy to get an illusion that the wing is on fire.

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  • Wasif M. Khan
    Apr 21, 2012 - 8:32PM

    I am not an expert like Faraz sb but do know that the Air Blue Crash families have achieved great success in forcing the incompetent and corrupt CAA to make some investigation, albeit mostly rubbish. Whatever happens here, the families should seek some help from the Air Blue crash families and give the authorities a tough time that now institutionalises the process of rigorous and detailed investigations. May Allah bless the departed souls.

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  • Truth Teller
    Apr 21, 2012 - 8:57PM

    Nothing will come out from investigations! People will forget & than new accidents. Story of Pakistan.

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  • Aftab Kenneth Wilson
    Apr 21, 2012 - 8:57PM

    Shame on those who were seen looting the valuables of the dead. People from nearby were visibly seen doing all this like vultures. Law enforcers and other concerned departments failed to remove onlookers My heart goes for the friends and family members of all deceased. May their soul rest in peace, Amen.Recommend

  • Munir Ahmed
    Apr 21, 2012 - 9:43PM

    @Aftab Kenneth Wilson: I was present at the site an hour after the crash – you are absolutely wrong and have vomited dirtier imaginations in your post, in fact it is the locals who were there at first – the actual crash site was not known to the army and other rescue teams for at least one hour after the crash and they were searching here and there like blinds and asking the local if they have seen any plane crashed nearby. The locals were complaining why Helicopeters were not used in the search operations to find the exact location of the crash??? This nation has paid lot of money in buying these assets.

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  • Apr 21, 2012 - 10:24PM

    @M.Salman Nisar: They always blame the pilots as poor guys are not alive to defend themselves. That’s what happened in the Manglore air crash in India. So be prepared for another eye wash. I felt so sorry for the man in the pic who is talking on the mobile with his hand on his face on ET home page. He seems to be weeping! I am so sorry!

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  • Meekal Ahmed
    Apr 22, 2012 - 1:18AM

    @Faraz:

    Yes, I think I AM talking sense. Eye witness accounts ARE unreliable. This is well-documented. Please read up on the issue.

    In the AB case, witnesses SWORE they saw the plane on fire before it crashed into the hills.

    Some very sick person even created a video in which he showed an aircraft on fire (using a flight simulator) and then it crashed in a ball of fire.

    Anyway, since this shoot-down theory fit perfectly into the anti-Americanism in Pakistan, everyone loved it! I think there were 50-60 LIKES to the theory in this newspaper!

    Sonny, I have watched more of the Air Crash investigation series (because I am interested in aviation and can claim to have some experience and knowledge of aviation which you obviously don’t), than you. I have also read and studied more accident investigation reports than your age, multiplied by three!

    I am sure you have NOT even read the AB accident report which is on the CAA web-site.

    I think some of the recreations in the Seriesyou mention are quite poor but some of it is compelling because they are using the black boxes, the same words that were uttered, and the same flight parameters.

    A nice program but could be better acted.

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  • Faraz
    Apr 22, 2012 - 5:03AM

    @Jeremy:
    I am not saying that, that is what happened (weather may actually have played a role), I am just hoping they don’t make the pilots/weather the scapegoat here as that would be easy and the authorities concerned would get away with murder IF there was SOMETHING else involved too. And by that I mean, technical flaws with the plane, maintenance issues et cetera. Not suggesting anything and certainly no conspiracy theories.

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  • Faraz
    Apr 22, 2012 - 8:54AM

    @Meekal Ahmed:
    One advice to you, stop assuming people’s age and their profession on online forums (being interested in aviation proves nothing, lol), (and also no need to give your credentials) and who’s talking about AB crash here and so what if you have read a few crash reports?? I am not suggesting bombing of this plane (no conspiracy theories please, I am sick of this typical Pakistani nonsense), its easy to blame the weather/pilots, if there were other technical issues…then those must not be just brushed under the carpet. get the point Mr Meekal?

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  • Faraz
    Apr 22, 2012 - 9:07AM

    @Meekal Ahmed:
    and by the way, this very page says the plane did catch fire (initial CAA report, I am only commenting on the basis of this report, I obviously don’t know what really happened), so if you are the real expert(? of course you are because you are ‘interested’ in aviation) then go and correct them with your very precious knowledge of reading online crash reports, hehe.

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  • nationalist baloch
    Apr 22, 2012 - 9:33AM

    … let us change the name of the airport back to, Islamabad International Airport …

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  • amman1
    Apr 22, 2012 - 2:32PM

    @farhana…..if your car has an accident (God forbid) and your driver dies in it…would he be a SHAHEED ???? atleast educated people should look before leap….unlike all who use this title for even their political leaders and bombers…….SHAHADAT is a highly designated about which Allah speaks Himself in Quran…..you shall be very careful about using this term…..first consult a TAFSEER E QURAN and read about it.

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  • Asif
    Apr 22, 2012 - 8:03PM

    The plane was parked for almost ten years under a very structurally corrosive environment i.e. Karachi. Federal Aviation Administration has strict guidelines for storage. In fact most of the Europeans and even Emirates store their aircraft in Arizona Desert near Tucson United States because it meets the zero humidity and temperature requirements. It is wrapped with special plastic. When it is taken out FAA rules require total and thorough inspection because it is qualified for air travel – which for a small plane like 737 takes a month or more..
    This plane in combination of old age and parked in corrosive environment broke apart in mid air and that is the reason you see debris scattered so far out. Plus with high forward momentum it tore the structure into small pieces as you see.
    If it was micro-burst the plane would have dropped like a rock with a big hole at the point of impact and most of the structure intact.
    The fire people saw while the plane was in mid flight was due to rupture of fuel-ine which caught fire and it descended rapidly with total loss of control. Likely everyone was aware that what was going to happen to them.
    I looked at the picture on-line and news paper the manner in which the structure is broken is consistent with catastrophic structural failure.
    CAA, Airline operator and the Government for appointing inept and corrupt official to CAA are equally liable under international law they should be tried as criminals.

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  • Aftab Kenneth Wilson
    Apr 22, 2012 - 9:16PM

    @Munir Ahmed: Go and check Pakistan Today news paper. Even Sana Bucha of Geo news reported today the same which I have penned down. Always look before you jump on anyone.

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  • Bishop Dr. Ijaz Inayat
    Apr 23, 2012 - 3:26AM

    Rubbish.

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  • Ahmed
    Apr 23, 2012 - 11:18AM

    @Asif:

    If whatever you say is correct why plane got clearance from South Africa. Which genius told you that plane was in Karachi. It has been mentioned clearly that plane was brought from South Africa. Are you jsut cooking stories based on your imagination or what?

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  • farhana
    Apr 23, 2012 - 2:50PM

    @amman1:

    having read my previous message i dont think you understood, my questions were just what came to mind so i thought i would get views of people with more knowledge then me, however your reply was bang out of order, if i had made comments then what you said was defined, however making comments regarding lack of education for others, not know that you lack consideration within yourself.

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