Apr 21, 2012, 2:33 AM
News Code: 80088457
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Islamabad, April 21,IRNA – A black box flight recorder from a Pakistani private airlines plane, that crashed near Islamabad international airport Friday evening, killing 127 people on board, has been recovered by search teams, officials said.

Recovery of the black box has raised hopes of understanding what really caused the crash of a Boeing aircraft of private Bhoja airlines.

The data recorder was handed over to the Pakistan Air Force for investigations, officials said. All record of control tower and radar systems at the Islamabad airport was sealed to listen to the conversation between the pilot and aviation officials, officials said.

President Asif Ali Zardari directed to hold inquiry into the matter and that the report be submitted to the presidency, presidential spokesman said.

Interior Minister Rehman Malik and officials of the airlines confirmed there is no survivor among 118 passengers and 9 crew members. The Interior Minister also said there are strong indications that lightening may have hit the plane but he said that black box would determine the real causes.

Civil aviation authorities believe that the Boeing-737 crashed after running into lightning and heavy rain over Islamabad.

witnesses said the plane crashed on residential area, causing fire in the plane and several houses. Officials said there was not casualty on the ground and all residences of the affected houses were safe.

The plane B-4213 was coming from the port city of Karachi to Islamabad when came down nearly 10 kilometers away from the Islamabad’s Benazir International Airport at 6;45 p.m., local time.

The plane crashed minutes some 10 kilometers from Islamabad airport before it had to be landed, the aviation authority said.

The Defence Ministry ordered inquiry into the crash and formed a committee to submit a report. The committee will be headed by group captain Mujahid Islam of Pakistan Air Force.

Sultan Hasan, spokesman for Pakistan International Airlines, said that relatives of those killed in the crash will be taken to Islamabad free of cost early Saturday to identify bodies.

All bodies were shifted to the main hospital Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences for identification.

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh sent condolences to the government and the bereaved families.

A former head of the Civil Aviation Authority, Junaid Ameen, told the media that bad weather is usually not the cause of plane crashes because planes have equipments which help in dealing with the situation. “Planes are designed to fly in bad weather.”

An eye witness told reporters at the site that he saw fire at the tail of the plane before it crashed.

According to sources in Civil Aviation Authority, the flight was given clearance to land at Islamabad airport but it lost contact with the control tower minutes before the crash.

Rescue teams including Pakistan army personnel rushed to the crash site.

Rescuers said the plane's wreckage, bodies and their luggae were spread over one kilometer area.

A large number of relatives rushed to the Karachi and Islamabad airports to get information of the crash. A special plane will be arranged for relatives to fly to Islamabad to identify bodies, officials said.

Touching scenes were seen at the Karachi and Islamabad airports as the relatives of the passengers and crew members were anxiously waiting for information.

Group Captain Mujahidul Islam, head of Safety Investigation Board Civil Aviation Authority, will lead an inquiry into the incident.

Two operation rooms have been set up at Benazir Bhutto Benazir Bhutto International Airport in Rawalpindi and Jinnah International Airport in Karachi.

A senior aviation official, Mansoor Bukhari, said there was no foreigner in the aircraft and all passengers and crew members were Pakistani nationals.

Rescue and search operation for the bodies faced difficulties due to bad weather, darkness and traffic jam on the main road to the crash site.

A rescue official of the Capital Development Authority’s disaster management department, Asif Majeed, told reporters that ambulances and fire tender could not reach in time as they had been stuck in the traffic jam.

Authorities temporarily closed the Islamabad International Airport for all incoming and outgoing flights after the plane crash, Civil Aviation sources said. The airport was reopened after a couple of hours, a PIA spokesman said.

Bhoja Air Lines has recently launched operation after years of suspension service due to financial cruch. Officials said it was maiden flight from Karachi to Islamabad. Officials said the plane was nearly a 27-year old. The airlines officials said the plane was fit for flying.

It is the second passenger plane crash near Islamabad in less than two years.

A total of 152 passengers and crew members were killed when a plane of private Air Blue airlines crashed in the Margalla Hills in Islamabad in July 2010.

President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani expressed deep shock and grief over the tragedy of the plane crash.

While expressing heartfelt condolences and sympathies with the affected families, they have directed the concerned authorities to take all measures, expeditiously in the rescue operation and information desks to be set up at Karachi and Islamabad airports to provide accurate and timely information to the affected families.

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