At least 57 people were killed when a Pakistan International Airlines plane with 99 people on board crashed into a densely populated residential area near the Jinnah International Airport here on Friday, officials said, nearly a week after the Covid-19-induced air travel restrictions were lifted by the Government.
Flight PK-8303 from Lahore was about to land in Karachi when it crashed at the Jinnah Garden area near Model Colony in Malir, minutes before its landing, they said.
The PIA Airbus A320 carrying 91 passengers and eight crew members has crashed landed into the Jinnah Housing Society located near the airport, a spokesperson of the national carrier said.
Thick black smoke rose from the accident scene of devastation in the Model Colony area. Earlier, a PIA Spokesperson and many media reports said that there were 107 people on board the aircraft.
Faisal Edhi of the Edhi Welfare Trust said so far 57 bodies have been recovered from the crashed plane. “Our rescue workers have taken out 57 bodies from the remains of the aircraft,” he said.
Sindh Health Minister Azra Pechuho said that 19 bodies have been shifted from the crash site to Jinnah hospital and another 20 to the civil hospital. Scores of injured were also rushed to other hospitals.
The Minister said there are three survivors, including President of the Bank of Punjab Zafar Masood. He called up his mother to inform her of his well-being. Edhi said that around 25 to 30 residents whose houses were damaged by the plane have also been taken to the hospital, mostly with burn wounds.
The aircraft wings during the crash landing hit the houses in the residential colony before crashing down.
“At least 25 houses have been damaged in this incident,” Edhi said. “The first priority is to rescue the people. The main hurdle is narrow streets and presence of ordinary people who gathered at the place after the crash but they have been dispersed,” the minister said.
According to a PIA official, the captain informed the air traffic control that he was having problems with the landing gear before the aircraft disappeared from the radar.
Thick black smoke rose from a scene of devastation in the Model Colony area. Television footage showed rescue crews combing through debris strewn across the streets of the district — 3 km north-east of the airport — where a number of houses have been destroyed.
The cause of the crash is yet to be confirmed. PIA chief executive Air Vice Marshal Arshad Malik said the pilot had told traffic control that the plane was experiencing “technical difficulties”. Malik rejected reports that the plane had problems even before flying. Talking to media, he said the aircraft was completely safe and sound.
He said all checks and procedures were done and “technically as well as administratively everything was in place and perfect”.
The plane with 99 people on board came for landing but just before landing the pilot said he was going for a go-around. While coming for second landing, it developed some problems and crashed. “The real cause of the mishap will be known after inquiry, which will be free and fair and it will be provided with media,” he said.
He said some houses were damaged but none of them collapsed. There was no death on ground so far. Malik said that the entire operation will take two to three days to complete. Pakistan’s Dunya News said it had obtained a recording of the conversation, also posted on monitoring website liveatc.Net.
In it the pilot says they have “lost two engines”. Several seconds later he calls “Mayday, Mayday, Mayday” and there is no further communication.
Saturday, 23 May 2020 | PTI | Karachi
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