In­ves­ti­ga­tors seek clues on deadly plane crash

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - WORLD - By AGEN­CIES in Is­lam­abad

Pak­istan on Thurs­day mourned the 47 vic­tims of its dead­li­est plane crash in four years, among them two in­fants and three for­eign­ers, as of­fi­cials sought to pin­point the cause of the dis­as­ter.

En­gine trou­ble was ini­tially be­lieved re­spon­si­ble, but many ques­tions re­main, stir­ring new wor­ries about the safety record of money-los­ing state car­rier Pak­istani In­ter­na­tional Air­lines.

The ATR-42 air­craft in­volved in the crash had un­der­gone reg­u­lar main­te­nance, in­clud­ing an “A-check” cer­ti­fi­ca­tion in Oc­to­ber, air­line chair­man Muham­mad Azam Saigol said.

“I want to make it clear that it was a per­fectly sound air­craft,” Saigol said, rul­ing out tech­ni­cal or hu­man er­ror.

The air­craft ap­peared to have suf­fered a fail­ure in one of its two tur­bo­prop en­gines just be­fore the crash, he said, but this would have to be con­firmed by an in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

“I think there was no tech­ni­cal er­ror or hu­man er­ror,” he told a news con­fer­ence late on Wed­nes­day. “Ob­vi­ously there will be a proper in­ves­ti­ga­tion.”

Out­pour­ings of grief erupted on­line soon af­ter flight PK661 smashed into the side of a moun­tain near the town of Havelian late on Wed­nes­day, af­ter tak­ing off from the moun­tain re­sort of Chi­tral.

For­eign­ers among dead

The for­eign­ers in­cluded two Aus­tri­ans and a Chi­nese man, the air­line said.

The Chi­nese em­bassy in Pak­istan has ver­i­fied the Chi­nese vic­tim’s iden­tity and is giv­ing sup­port to his fam­ily, For­eign Min­istry spokesper­son Lu Kang said in Bei­jing.

For­eign tourists in­creas­ingly flock to Chi­tral ev­ery year, be­sides thou­sands of do­mes­tic vis­i­tors, as Pak­istan emerges from years of vi­o­lence caused by a Tal­iban in­sur­gency.

The air­craft, made by French com­pany ATR in 2007, had racked up 18,739 flight hours since join­ing PIA’s fleet that year. Its cap­tain, Saleh Jan­jua, had logged more than 12,000 flight hours over his ca­reer, the air­line said.

Chicago Po­lice of­fi­cers salute Of­fi­cer Michael Wal­ters and his ex­plo­sives de­tec­tion ca­nine “Bob” as they ar­rive at a hospi­tal in Niles, Illinois, on Thurs­day. The dog was to be hu­manely eu­th­a­nized af­ter be­ing di­ag­nosed with brain can­cer.

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