Pakistan travel ban on crash airline boss

Pakistan barred the head of an airline whose jet crashed near Islamabad from leaving the country on Saturday as it began an investigation into the disaster that sparked anger among distraught relatives.

The Bhoja Air flight from Karachi came down in fields near a village on the outskirts of the Pakistani capital on Friday evening, killing all 127 people onboard, in the city's second major fatal air crash in less than two years.

Interior minister Rehman Malik said a committee had been set up to investigate the crash and the head of the airline Farooq Bhoja had been put on an "exit control list", meaning he is banned from leaving Pakistan.

Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) officials said the second-hand Boeing 737-200 was nearly 30 years old, but an airline spokeswoman said the plane's age had no bearing on the tragedy, which happened as a thunderstorm hit the city.

"The aircraft was old and second hand but it is not something unusual. The fleet of state-run Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) also runs old aircraft," Bhoja Air official Masham Zafar told AFP.

"There was no technical issue and bad weather is to be blamed."

She said the plane left Karachi with CAA approval and was given clearance to land at Islamabad.

CAA director general Nadeem Khan Yusufzai said the plane suddenly dropped from 2,900 feet to 2,000 feet as it made its final approach to land, and vanished from the airport radar.

He said another plane from the private Airblue airline landed safely from the same approach about 10 minutes afterwards and there was no indication from the Bhoja pilot that he was in distress.

The flight data recorder has been recovered and will be sent abroad for analysis, he said, and the overall investigation could take up to a year to complete its work.

Distraught relatives wept as they collected the remains of loved ones from Islamabad's main hospital and some voiced anger at what they saw as official fecklessness.

"It's sheer incompetence of the government. This is the second major accident here in less than two years but the president and the prime minister remain unmoved," said a woman who identified herself as Mrs Hassan, whose cousin was killed.

"If the weather was bad why they did not warn the pilot. Why did they allow the plane to land?"

Abdul Raoof blamed the airport control tower for negligence over the crash, which killed his cousin.

"If the weather was bad, the plane should have been turned away," he said. "It is also a mistake of the airline. They sacrificed 127 lives just to save some fuel."

But CAA chief Yusufzai said the weather over the airport was not that severe and the final decision on whether to land or turn back lay with the pilot.

"The captain of the aircraft is the final authority. Nobody questions his decisions whether he wants to go around or to delay or divert flight, that is his discretion," he said.

All 127 people on board -- 121 passengers and six crew -- were killed when the plane crashed and burst into flames at around 6:40 pm on Friday in the village of Hussain Abad. There were 11 children among the dead.

The crash came less than two years after the worst ever air disaster on Pakistani soil.

In July 2010 an Airbus A321 operated by Airblue crashed into the hills overlooking Islamabad while coming in to land in heavy rain and poor visibility, killing all 152 people on board.

Boeing offered "profound condolences" to the victims' families and said it would provide technical assistance to the investigation into the Bhoja crash.

Military and aviation officials said bad weather was probably behind the crash, as there was a hail and thunderstorm over the city at the time.

A senior PIA engineer told AFP he thought an air pocket -- a patch of low air pressure -- could be to blame.

"Visibility was also low because it was raining and there was thunder and lightening. The pilot lost control and apparently failed to lift it out of the air pocket," he said.

Friday's flight was Bhoja's first evening trip from Karachi to Islamabad since resuming operations last month after a 12-year suspension for not paying CAA dues.

The deadliest civilian plane crash involving a Pakistani jet came in 1992 when a PIA flight crashed into a cloud-covered hillside on its approach to Kathmandu, killing 167 people.

Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • EU threatens Thailand with seafood ban over illegal fishing
    EU threatens Thailand with seafood ban over illegal fishing

    BRUSSELS (AP) — The European Union has given Thailand six months to drastically crack down on illegal and unregulated fishing or face an EU seafood import ban, but has lifted the threat of similar action against South Korea and the Philippines. …

  • Philippines accuses China of turning water cannon on its fishing boats

    Filipino activists denounced China's coast guard on Tuesday for turning water cannon on Philippine fishing boats in disputed waters, near where hundreds of Filipino and American Marines landed on a beach in a mock assault. The presidential palace in Manila said China's coast guard used water cannon on Monday to drive away a group of Filipino fishermen at Scarborough Shoal, damaging some of their wooden boats. …

  • Image of Asia: Training to storm a beach in the Philippines
    Image of Asia: Training to storm a beach in the Philippines

    In this photo by Bullit Marquez, a U.S. Navy amphibious assault vehicle with Philippine and U.S. troops on board storms the beach during a joint exercise at the Naval Education and Training Command center in Zambales province, northwest of Manila. The Zambales shore faces the disputed Scarborough Shoal, where Chinese vessels were reported to have driven away Filipino fishermen with a water cannon and seized some of their catch in early April. Philippine military officials say the maneuvers with …

  • Pinoy team wins global disaster preparedness competition

    The Philippines was one of the big winners at the 2015 Global Innovation Competition last week for a cloud-based information system for disaster. The project, called "Balangay," is the brainchild of cousins Frei Sangil and Paolo Sangil. …

  • How Asia uses Bitcoin in one color-coded map
    How Asia uses Bitcoin in one color-coded map

    Bitcoin is a global phenomenon, but not everyone around the world uses it in the same way. Here in Asia, the way a person from the Philippines uses bitcoin is probably very different from how it’s used in Thailand, and both are very different from the typical user in Taiwan. Despite bitcoin being hailed as …

  • Pacmania sweeps Philippines ahead of Mayweather clash
    Pacmania sweeps Philippines ahead of Mayweather clash

    Manny Pacquiao's face is on shirts, dolls and postage stamps, his life story is playing in movie houses and millions are getting ready to party as the Philippine boxing hero's "fight of the century" nears. Pacmania is sweeping the Southeast Asian nation of 100 million people ahead of the May 2 Las Vegas bout against unbeaten Floyd Mayweather to decide who is the best boxer of their generation. Of course, it's the fight of the century," Manila film producer Lucky Blanco told AFP. …

  • Manila 'cute little submissive' of US: China media
    Manila 'cute little submissive' of US: China media

    The Philippines is nothing more than the "cute little submissive" of the United States, a Chinese tabloid with close ties to the ruling Communist Party said on Tuesday, criticising Manila for military exercises with Washington. The English-language editorial came a day after the Philippines launched giant 10-day war games with the US and Australia, partly aimed as a warning shot to Beijing amid competing claims in the South China Sea, home to vital shipping routes. "Of all the countries …

  • Philippines seeks more military aid from US to counter China
    Philippines seeks more military aid from US to counter China

    The Philippines said Tuesday it would soon ask the United States for more military equipment and training to build its defences, as it faces Chinese "aggressiveness" in disputed waters. As hundreds of Filipino and American Marines simulated an amphibious assault to reclaim territory from invaders during annual war games, military chief General Gregorio Catapang told AFP he was drafting a "wish list" for US aid. Catapang said the Philippines would ask for "equipment and training", when Foreign …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options