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Bhoja Air Owner Banned From Leaving Pakistan Following Crash


Paramilitary soldiers and members of the media gather near the wreckage of a Boeing 737 airliner that crashed in Islamabad, April 21, 2012.

Paramilitary soldiers and members of the media gather near the wreckage of a Boeing 737 airliner that crashed in Islamabad, April 21, 2012.

Pakistan is prohibiting the owner of an airline from leaving the country following the crash of one of its planes that killed 127 people.

Interior Minister Rehman Malik said Farooq Bhoja has been barred from leaving Pakistan while aviation officials investigate Friday's crash that killed all on board.

Witnesses say the Boeing 737 crashed during a thunderstorm near the capital's international airport, and that it may have already been on fire before it hit the ground. An airline official has blamed bad weather for the crash, but the cause has not been determined. The plane's flight data recording system - key to any investigation - has been recovered.

At first light Saturday, soldiers and emergency workers were seen searching for bodies among the wreckage.

Bhoja Air had stopped operating for more than a decade, but relaunched in March with several used Boeings - a practice aviation officials say is not uncommon.

While the airline had been flying between Lahore and Karachi, Friday's doomed flight from Karachi marked the first time the airline had flown to Islamabad. Officials say the leased Bhoja Air jet had been in service for three decades.

Bhoja Air official Masham Zafar told the French news agency, AFP, the Boeing 737 had received Pakistan's Civil Aviation Authority certification and was given clearance by the CAA to land at the Islamabad airport.

In July 2010, a passenger plane operated by Airblue airlines crashed in the mountains near Islamabad, killing all 152 people onboard. It was the deadliest plane crash in the country's history.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.

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