Trapped and abandoned: 7 bodies recovered from cold storage, identified

Published: June 11, 2014
A man showing a burned identity card of one the victims who died in the cold storage facility of Karachi airport. PHOTO: EXPRESS/MOHAMMAD AZEEM

A man showing a burned identity card of one the victims who died in the cold storage facility of Karachi airport. PHOTO: EXPRESS/MOHAMMAD AZEEM


The victims of the attacks on the airport in Karachi on Sunday night have now all been identified, as seven bodies recovered from the cold storage facility at Jinnah International Terminal were claimed by family members.

Initially, doctors had said that the bodies, brought to the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre early on Tuesday morning, would need to be identified through DNA tests as the severity of their burns prevented identification. Officials attempted to decipher information on the victims’ burned identification cards as well before they turned to family members for assistance. Initially, health officials including Sindh Health Minister Dr Sagheer Ahmed said identification of the bodies was only possible through DNA tests, which could take up to three weeks.

Mohammad Fazal burst into tears in the JPMC mortuary, as he spotted a familiar mark on a body there. “This is my brother Faizan Ahmed,” he said, crying. Meanwhile, Habibul Haq found his brother Farhan’s body and wept as he prepared himself to break the news to Farhan’s wife and two-year-old daughter Zunera. Inayatullah’s brother, Umair, and uncle, Shahid Khan, did not take long to find his body, saying his prominent height made the task easier. Inayatullah’s identity card was charred, but his photograph remained intact. Shahid said he spoke with Umair at 11.25 pm on the night of the attack, as militants entered the airport’s premises. “He told us about the attack,” said Shahid, “But then his phone was turned off. He never contacted us again.”

The bodies of Syed Saif-ul-Rehman, Muhammad Sultan, Nabeel Ahmed and Fareedullah Khan were also identified by male members of their families, as women waited outside the morgue. “Fareedullah was in constant contact with us and with officials until 4 am,” said his brother Shehzada. “He said the firing was ongoing and he was trying to find a safe location. He said he would call us from the safe location, but he never did.” Khan, aged 42, left behind a widow and four children.

Relatives of the deceased complained that rescue work was delayed due to the authority’s negligence. “We were right when we said our relatives were inside the cold storage,” said Sheraz. “We kept complaining, protesting and appealing to the authorities, but no one listened to us.” However, no case has been registered against the Civil Aviation Authority for the alleged criminal negligence. “A case should definitely be registered,” commented Malir SSP Rao Anwar. “We will register the case if any family approaches the police.”

The JPMC medical team confirmed to The Express Tribune that eight bodies, including one of Airport Security Force sub-inspector Juman Khan, were burned alive. “None of the bodies had any bullet wounds,” said senior Medico Legal Officer Dr Rohina Hasan. According to ASF officials, Juman Khan was shot and injured, and then trapped in the fire. His body was recovered near the cold storage facility and it is believed that he tried to secure the safety of trapped staff.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 11th, 2014.

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