Pakistan struggles to identify victims of plane crash
Pakistani authorities investigating a plane crash that killed all 48 passengers on Wednesday have begun DNA testing on the bodies recovered from the wreckage.

An army spokesman said the bodies air-lifted from the site were burnt beyond recognition and will be handed over to families after they are identified.

The plane crashed into a hillside around 80 kilometers from the capital Islamabad, where it was headed after leaving northwestern Chitral district, a popular tourist site, after the engine reportedly failed.

Among those killed was the popular singer-turned-preacher Junaid Jamshed, his wife and three foreigners.

"Most of the bodies, including that of Junaid Jamshed, are badly charred beyond recognition. There is no other way except through DNA tests to identify the victims,” Dr. Junaid Ahmed, an official at the Ayub Medical Complex Abbotabad, told reporters.

He said only six bodies could be identified by their finger prints but another official at the hospital, who could not be named as he was not cleared to speak to media, told Anadolu Agency not only a single body was intact.

Bad weather and fog delayed the transfer of the bodies for hours, as relatives of the victims gathered at the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences Islamabad to give DNA samples.

Local TV channels and newspapers have showered praise on Jamshed, who before becoming a religious preacher was the lead singer of the country's first major pop band, whose popular "Dil Dil Pakistan" song became an unofficial national anthem in the late 1980s.

More than 500 soldiers have sealed the crash site to collective evidence. While the local ARY TV channel quoted government officials saying the plane's black box had been found, Civil Aviation Authority spokesman Pervez George refused to confirm or deny the report.

The Chitral-Islamabad route is considered one of the most perilous air routes due to its mountainous nature.

Pakistan has a long history of air disasters with 17 crashes since 1965. Some 130 people were killed when a local airline’s plane crashed in Islamabad in April 2012.

Pakistan’s former military ruler General Zia-ul-Haq, along with 17 senior army officers and the then US ambassador to Pakistan, was killed in a plane crash in August 1988.
Last Modified: 2016-12-08 10:09:31
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