ISLAMABAD: Flags flew at half mast across Pakistan yesterday as the nation observed a day of mourning for its air force chief and 16 people killed in the worst air tragedy since military ruler General Zia ul Haq died in a plane crash in 1988.
An air force Fokker F-27 carrying Air Chief Marshal Mushaf Ali Mir , 55, his wife and 15 senior air force officers and technicians came down in foggy weather early Thursday in mountains near the town of Kohat in northwest Pakistan, where Ali was heading to conduct an inspection ceremony at the local air force base.
All 17 passengers and crew were killed.
Funeral prayers were held yesterday morning at the main air force base at Chaklala near Islamabad, attended by President Pervez Musharraf, Prime Minister Zafarullah Jamali, Islamic and secular party leaders.
Members of the public and media were barred from entering the base.
General Musharraf – also the country's army chief – who had appointed Mir head of the air force in November 2000, said in a message of condolence that he had lost a personal friend.
Mir will be buried with full military honours in the eastern city of Lahore today, the state-run Associated Press of Pakistan (APP) reported. His wife Balqees Mushaf was to be buried alongside him.
A board of inquiry has been set up to probe the cause of the crash. Air force spokesman Air Commodore Sarfraz Ahmed Khan said it was too early to determine whether the crash was an accident, saying the weather and aircraft were fit for flying. – AFP
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