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PIA staff forgets to put boy’s body on plane

Courtesy: Dawn News

GILGIT: In a heart-wrenching incident, a PIA flight from Islamabad to Skardu left behind the body of a six-year-old boy at the capital’s airport on Friday, while his parents continued their journey, unaware of the shocking mistake.

The parents of the deceased boy were shocked and fainted at Skardu airport when they came to know that their son’s body had been left behind in Islamabad.

Mujtaba, a resident of Katshi village of Kharmang district, was diagnosed with a tumour at a hospital in Skardu and doctors referred him to Rawalpindi for treatment a month ago. His father Muhammad Askari and mother took him to Rawalpindi and he had been under treatment at Benazir Bhutto Hospital for weeks. Mujtaba lost his life in the hospital on Thursday.

The parents decided to transport the body of their child to their native village of Katshi for burial, through a PIA flight on Friday, as a 24-hour-long journey from Islamabad to Skardu by road with the body was not possible due to hot weather.

Shocked parents, relatives protest against airline management’s negligence at Skardu airport

The deceased boy’s parents and another relative confirmed their tickets at flight PK-451 from Islamabad to Skardu on Friday morning. They brought the body to Islamabad airport at 6am and completed cargo procedure for the body after fulfilling SOPs and airline’s rules and made the payment.

Ibrahim Asadi, a relative of the deceased boy, told Dawn that the body was scheduled to be transported with the parents to Skardu from Islamabad at 9am.

He said the flight was delayed for four hours and left Islamabad at 1pm.

Upon arrival at Skardu airport at 2pm, the parents were informed that mistakenly the body was not loaded on the plane and left behind at Islamabad airport.

The news sparked grief and outrage as parents were shocked and started crying while the boy’s mother and father fainted at the airport. The relatives of the boy waiting to receive the body also gathered at the airport’s lounge and started protest against the PIA management’s negligence. It continued for three hours.

Officials of PIA, Civil Aviation Authority and other departments, who were on duty at Skardu airport, tried to calm down the boy’s parents and relatives and admitted their mistake. They assured the parents of bringing back the body on Saturday (today).

The PIA officials said the company, which handles cargos at the airport, is responsible for not loading the body and assured the parents that action would be taken against it for negligence.

The boy’s parents and relatives chanted slogans against the PIA administration. They said the poor family had paid higher price to transport the body through the PIA flight, but the airline committed a serious negligence. They appealed to the government to take action against those responsible for the negligence.

Yousaf Kamal, another relative of the deceased boy, said the body had deliberately not been loaded on the plane. He said Minister for Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit-Baltistan Engr Amir Muqam was scheduled to fly to Gilgit from Islamabad on Friday, adding that the PIA flight from Islamabad to Gilgit couldn’t operate due to the bad weather condition.

He said the federal minister had changed his plan and decided to go to Skardu and kept the passengers waiting. He said the flight was scheduled to depart from Islamabad at 9am, but was delayed till 1pm to accommodate the minister, leaving the body behind at the airport.

1- Header image: SKARDU: Officials of PIA, the Civil Aviation Authority and police try to placate the protesting father of the deceased.—Photo by the writer

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