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Pakistan to exhume bodies of plane crash crew to check for drugs, poisoning

By Allen Cone
Rescue workers carry a coffin containing the remains of a victim of a Pakistan International Airlines crash to an ambulance for DNA identification in Islamabad, Pakistan, on December 8, 2016. Pakistan authorities want to exhume the bodies of the five crew members to see if any were under the influence of drugs or were poisoned. Photo by T. Mughal/European Pressphoto Agency
Rescue workers carry a coffin containing the remains of a victim of a Pakistan International Airlines crash to an ambulance for DNA identification in Islamabad, Pakistan, on December 8, 2016. Pakistan authorities want to exhume the bodies of the five crew members to see if any were under the influence of drugs or were poisoned. Photo by T. Mughal/European Pressphoto Agency

Jan. 17 (UPI) -- Authorities in Pakistan want to exhume the bodies of the five crew members of a jet that crashed last month to see if any were under the influence of drugs or were poisoned.

All 48 people aboard were killed when Pakistan International Airlines flight PK-661 crashed in a hilly area in the city of Havelian, near Abbottabad, en route from Chitral to Islamabad on Dec. 7.

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Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had ordered an investigation into the cause of the crash.

In a letter to the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences, district health officer Najeeb Durrani said the graves of crew members should be dug up. The daily newspaper Dawn reported the letter was standard operating procedure.

IMS Administrator Altaf Hussein said Tuesday that the hospital administration already has samples from the crew members that can be used to test for drugs.

"This will be done after orders are received from the deputy commissioner as orders of exhuming a body can only be given by him," he said.

CAA Secretary Irfan Elahi previously said that both engines of the plane were working at "100 percent" when the jet took off from Chitral and that only one of the engines was running when the jet crashed.

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Elahi said the pilot was "calm" when he made his first call to the control room, but he issued a May Day call only two minutes later, saying one of the engines was not running.

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