Pakistan airline boss in 'protective custody' for crash probe
Pakistan has blocked the head of an airline from leaving the country after one of the company's planes crashed on approach to Islamabad's international airport, killing all 127 people on board.
Interior Minister Rehman Malik said Farooq Bhoja, head of Bhoja Air, had been put on the "exit control list," meaning he can't leave Pakistan. Such a ban is often put on someone suspected or implicated in a criminal case.
Speaking Saturday at the scene of the disaster, he said Bhoja has been ordered into "protective custody" and a criminal investigation has been launched.
Malik later said that the airline "seems to be at fault as it had acquired a very old aircraft."
"If the airline management doesn't have enough money it doesn't mean you go and buy a 30-year-old or more aircraft as if it were a rickshaw and start an airline."
The development comes a day after a Bhoja Air Boeing 737-200 crashed in a muddy wheat field during a severe thunderstorm, moments before the plane was due to land in the Pakistani capital on a flight from Karachi.
Despite Malik's comment on aging aircraft, some experts have speculated that wind shear — sudden changes in wind that can lift or smash an aircraft into the ground during landing — could have been a factor in the crash.
Bhoja Air, a domestic carrier that has just four planes, only resumed operations last month after suspending them in 2001 due to financial difficulties.
Bhoja administrative director Javed Ishaq told reporters and relatives of those on board that the jet was in good condition and was brought down by "heavy winds."
The last major plane crash in the country — and Pakistan's worst — occurred in July 2010 when an Airbus A321 aircraft operated by domestic carrier Airblue crashed into the hills overlooking Islamabad, killing all 152 people aboard. A government investigation blamed the pilot for veering off course amid stormy weather.