PIA leaves two coffins behind in New York


    LAHORE: The PIA last flight from New York left behind two bodies, booked for Lahore, at the JFK Airport to the utter shock of the accompanying and the waiting family members at the airport here, initially showing no remorse or willingness to compensate for the happening.

    A man who was accompanying the body of his brother, his ailing father and another brother who were awaiting in Lahore, have left for New York to locate and take care of the body after waiting for two days for any remedial step by the PIA. “The grieved family have been agonised,” said Hasan Mubarak, a cousin, who was to receive the body at the Lahore airport.

    PIA CEO Dr Musharraf Rasool Cyan has taken a serious notice of leaving behind the two human remains in New York and ordered an inquiry, says a PIA spokesperson in the meantime.

    In a press release issued here, the spokesperson said according to initial report received from New York it was mainly due to the negligence on the part of a foreign ground handling agency at the JFK Airport.

    These were replaced by luggage carrying catering items

    According to Mr Hasan Mubarak, his cousin Nauman Badar, 28, died in the US on Oct 25. It took two days for his brother, Bilal, to have all legal and medical formalities completed. Funeral prayers were held on Oct 27 and the body was to be loaded to a Lahore-bound flight the next day. This was arranged for, and the last flight of PIA to the USA left the JFK Airport, New York, for Lahore on Oct 28, carrying the body, and Bilal.

    At the Lahore airport, Hasan Mubaarak was to formally receive the body on Oct 29. With him were the father of the deceased, Chaudhry Shafqat Badar, around 70 and a heart patient, and his another son Umar Badar, both had come from Sahiwal.

    Hasan said the flight arrived Lahore airport nearly two hours behind its scheduled landing time. And to the utter horror of the accompanying Bilal and the awaiting family members the body was not found in the luggage area. Here they came across a family from Sialkot who were also trying to find out the body of a relative which was also to be carried to Lahore from New York by the same flight.

    He said the bodies were enlisted in the cargo list and it initially was found out that they were replaced by some luggage, containing catering items, not included in the list. The bodies lay unattended at the JFK Airport for 14 hours and nobody from PIA knew where they were. Finally, he said, his family members contacted the funeral company that had prepared the coffin which actually found the stranded bodies.

    The body of his cousin was retrieved by the funeral company on the family’s request and was being kept in its morgue, he said, adding agonized by the incident and the lack of any commitment by the PIA [as to] how to retrieve the bodies or to transport them to Pakistan, the brothers and the father of the deceased had to go to New York in despair on Oct 30 (Monday). They were to land there late on Tuesday night.

    Meanwhile, the PIA press release said two human remains that were to be transported from New York to Lahore via PIA flight PK 712 of Oct 28 2017, were left behind at New York Airport. All [ground] handling at New York is conducted by the ground handling company.

    Meanwhile, the PIA CEO taking notice of the issue personally supervised all alternative arrangements to bring back the human remains. The body of Mr Nauman Badar will be buried in Maryland as per instructions of family members while the (second) body of Mr Nasir Ali will be transported through Etihad Airways to reach Lahore on Nov 1 (today), as it was PIA’s last flight in current temporary suspension of its operation to New York. PIA will look after the arrangements in this regard and all expenses will be borne by it.

    “The PIA management regrets the inconvenience caused due to negligence on the part of airline’s ground handling agency at New York Airport and expresses its sympathies with the family members of the deceased persons,” the PIA spokesman concluded.

    Mr Hasan said none from the PIA had so far contacted him or those in America.