Process of collecting DNA samples of plane crash victims completed, says Sindh health minister

Sindh Health Minister Azra Pechuho on Wednesday said that the process of collecting DNA samples from the families of the victims of the ill-fated PK-8303 flight is complete and the bodies will be handed to the respective families within a period of seven days.

The minister, in a statement, said that so far about 43 out of 97 bodies were handed over to families after identification, whereas, the health department has sent 54 bodies and 59 DNA samples of relatives for the identification of remaining bodies.

“In the first phase, DNA profiling of 59 relatives was done and a report regarding the identification of six bodies has been submitted by the forensics,” Pechuho said, adding that the the identified bodies will be handed over to the respective families after legal proceedings today [Wednesday].

She said that the forensic laboratory, named International Centre for Chemical and Biological Sciences and which was setup in 2019, has the facilities to conduct the process of DNA sampling efficiently and has been working round-the-clock to match samples.

“We want to handover the bodies to bereaved families as soon as possible while speeding up the process of DNA sampling,” the minister said, emphasising that the government stands with the families of the deceased during these hard times.

Meanwhile, a PIA spokesperson said that the body of senior bureaucrat Khalid Sherdil has been identified and handed over to his family. He said that the PIA chief executive personally contacted and offered condolences to the family of the deceased.

Additionally, the national carrier has also initiated a “one-window operation” to fulfil the promise made to the affected family members, he said.

The spokesperson said that the investigation by the French team that had arrived earlier is underway. He also noted that PIA is issuing international and domestic tickets to the heirs of the victims.

Punjab collects samples

On Monday, the Punjab Forensic Science Agency (PFSA) had collected DNA samples of 52 victims of the ill-fated PK8303 flight, a day after the Sindh government refused to let the agency collect them.

PFSA Director-General Dr Muhammad Tahir Ashraf had confirmed that the agency had collected DNA samples from Karachi and returned to Lahore.

“DNA samples of 52 deceased individuals and their families have been obtained,” he confirmed. “We will start releasing DNA reports after Wednesday.”

On the other hand, Sindh Forensic and DNA Laboratory Karachi University had said that samples from 67 victims of the PIA plane crash have been provided by their families.

Pechuho, at the time, had said that Sindh has its own forensic/genome lab at Karachi University where the DNA sampling of all the unidentified plane crash victims will take place.

“We also have a lab at Liaquat University Jamshoro,” Pechuho had said.

She had maintained that the team that arrived from Punjab has come to investigate the aircraft specifics, not the bodies.

“Sindh is capable of conducting the DNA sampling and Governor [Imran Ismail] should not politicise such a tragedy by giving out statements without having complete knowledge,” she had further said.

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