Gathered together via Zoom, friends, and relatives of Wahida and Fazal Rahmaan watched from afar as the beloved couple was buried in Lahore, days after they were killed in a plane crash.
For many who lost loved ones in the May 22 tragedy, grief has been compounded by the coronavirus. The pandemic has made travel to funerals impossible and attendance dangerous.
The Rahmaans, married 53 years, were among 97 people killed when the Pakistan International Airlines Airbus plummeted into a Karachi neighborhood. However, only two people miraculously survived the crash.
“The most instinctual human response to grief is to hold on to somebody and hug somebody,” said Adil Rahman, one of the couple’s four sons.
“Covid has stripped us from that.”
Instead, Rahman watched the burial of his 80-year-old father and mother from his Missouri home in the US.
Pakistan has closed its borders to international travelers in an effort to contain the deadly disease.
Zoom’s video-conferencing platform on Friday showed a grid of grief-stricken faces with the largest frame showing the funeral in Lahore. An imam with a mask over his long beard recited the holy Quran as a small group of mourners covered the Rahmaans’ graves in flowers.
Draped in the Pakistani flag, adorned with beautiful flowers, my parents came home for the last time and I said my farewell over Zoom. They were beautiful and graceful till the end. #PIAPlaneCrash @ChrisNagusKMOV @rabiasquared @acereporter @JustineGerardy @ImranKhanPTI pic.twitter.com/sodo3LVkNu
— Adil Rahman (@Arnahstl) May 31, 2020
The scenes were tragic on the day of the PIA plane crash in Karachi. Rahman said the delay in identifying the bodies added to the family’s grief. He discovered first from local television that their mother’s body had been identified, which he described as a “gut punch”.
“And you don’t know how to recover from that,” he said.
Meanwhile, the family chose not to hold a traditional large funeral because of Covid-19.
@Official_PIA isn’t this your job? Don’t you have any capable crisis management personnel? Why are you so heartless? You wake up the grieving family at 2:30am to ask the same asinine questions, aap ka naam keya hai? Aap ka rishta kya hai? Bodies mil gai hain?
— Adil Rahman (@Arnahstl) May 26, 2020
Over 78,000 cases and more than 1,600 deaths have been reported. The virus is now spreading at an accelerating rate. The Rahmaans took Flight 8303 to visit their son in Karachi at the end of Ramadan.
Earlier, investigators found Rs30 million in cash from the wreckage of the crashed plane. They have also uncovered the Airbus’s black box and cockpit voice recorder. The authorities hope to release initial findings on June 22.
Story credits: AFP
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