All but two of the 99 people on board a Pakistan International Airline (PIA) passenger plane were killed when it crashed into a residential neighborhood of Karachi, officials said Saturday, as rescue workers toiled through the charred and twisted wreckage strewn across the street.
The PIA plane had made multiple approaches to land at Karachi airport on Friday when it came down among houses.
The national carrier’s flight PK-8303 took off from Lahore Allama Iqbal International Airport and crashed in Model Colony area in Malir, approximately 4 kilometers away from the airport.
The plane came to rest about 2:39pm in a narrow alley in the poor and congested residential area known as Model Colony between houses smashed by its wings. Police in protective masks struggled to clear away crowds amid the smoke and dust so ambulances and firetrucks could reach the crash site.
As darkness fell, crews worked under floodlights to recover bodies and a portable morgue was set up. Two passengers miraculously survived, said Meeran Yousaf, Sindh provincial Health Department spokeswoman.
Army, Rangers and Police units arrived at the scene and emergency was declared at Jinnah Hospital.
Speaking to Dunya News, PIA spokesperson confirmed that minety nine passengers and six crew members along with two captains were onboard the plane.
“It was an Airbus 320 which has capacity to carry around 180 passengers, however, number of passengers were kept at 50% capacity limit to ensure social distancing measures”, he informed.
According to the PIA officials, passengers included 51 male, 31 female and nine children. Chairman Punjab Bank Zafar Masood, senior journalist Ansar Naqvi and model Zara Abid were also travelling in the same flight.
25 HOUSES DAMAGED
Director General (DG) of Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR), in his tweet, informed that rescue operation by Army, Rangers, and other social welfare organization was still underway.
He further informed that 25 damaged houses were cleared and their residents were accommodated at various places with assistance of civil administration.
Residents near the scene recounted how their walls shook before a big explosion erupted as the aircraft slammed into the neighbourhood.
“I was coming from the mosque when I saw the plane tilting on one side. It was so low that the walls of my house were trembling,” said 14-year-old Hassan.
Another resident, Mudassar Ali, said he “heard a big bang and woke up to people calling for the fire brigade”.
A resident told Gulf News that the aircraft came dangerously before crashing. “It hit a house first and then crashed.
PILOT, CONTROL TOWER CONVERSATION
The pilot of Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) flight PK 8303 is heard saying he has lost both engines and then “Mayday, Mayday, Mayday,” the international distress message in the final moments of the conversation with the air-traffic controllers
A PIA official said that in the last conversation with the control tower, the pilot talked about technical problem including the loss of both the engines. The control tower informed the pilot that both the runways were available for landing.” Then the tower lost the contact.
The rescuers have recovered the plane’s black box, which contains cockpit audio recordings and technical flight data. Later the box was handed over Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).
PRAYERS & CONDOLENCES
Prime Minister Imran Khan and Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa on Friday expressed sadness over loss of precious lives in the plane crash in Karachi.
Prime Minister took to the social networking website twitter and expressed shock and saddened over the PIA crash.
On the other hand, in a statement issued by the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), the COAS directed provision of full assistance to civil administration in rescue and relief efforts.
WORLD LEADERS CONDOLE PIA PLANE CRASH
World leaders have sent messages of condolences to the government and people of Pakistan after Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) plane with nearly 100 people on board crashed into a residential area in Karachi on Friday.
In his latest tweet on Friday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi condoled the loss of lives in a plane crash in Pakistan and wished a speedy recovery to those injured.
“Deeply saddened by the loss of life due to a plane crash in Pakistan. Our condolences to the families of the deceased, and wishing speedy recovery to those injured,” he tweeted.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi too condoled the loss of lives in the crash and said he is praying for “miraculous stories of survival”.
I’m sorry to hear about the air crash in Pakistan in which many lives have been lost. News of survivors is a ray of hope & I pray that there are many miraculous stories of survival tonight. My deepest condolences to the families of those who have perished,” tweeted the Congress leader.
On the other hand, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has expressed grief and sorrow over loss of precious human lives in PIA crash incident.
Govt forms committee to probe into PIA plane crash
The government on Friday formed a four-member committee to probe into the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) passenger plane crash near the Jinnah International Airport before landing.
According to a notification released by Cabinet Secretariat Aviation Division, the four-member committee will be headed by Air Commodore Usman Ghani and comprising of Wing Commander Malik Muhammad Imran, Group Captain Tauqeer and Joint Director ATC Nasir Majeed.
The investigation team will immediately present a report to the Ministry of Aviation, while a detailed report will be presented within one month.
The crash occurred just days after the country began allowing commercial flights to resume after planes were grounded during a lockdown over the coronavirus pandemic.
Pakistan’s chequered aviation safety record
Pakistan has a chequered aviation safety record, with frequent plane and helicopter crashes over the years.
HERE IS A TIMELINE OF FATAL PLANE CRASHES IN PAKISTAN
At 2:56 pm on February 25, 1956, a Gilgit-Rawalpindi freight plane has crashed near the village of Jalkot in Lastgarush Galli due to rain, sleet and thunderstorm, killing all three people onboard.
The wreckage of this aircraft was found on March 11, 1956. The probable cause officially listed was pilot error, while he was attempting a flight beyond his ability or experience. Here follows the timeline and chronology of some other major air tragedies in Pakistan during the last six decades:
On July 1, 1957, some 24 people had lost lives after a Chittagong to Dhaka flight had crashed into the tides of the Bay of Bengal. The wreckage was found on July 4, 1957, on the coast of Charlakhi Island, which is about 50 miles west of Chittagong.
Probable cause: “The aircraft crashed after penetrating a thunderstorm and breaking up due to excessive forces placed upon the airframe.”
On May 15, 1958, a PIA aircraft had descended and struck ground after takeoff at night from Delhi Airport. The aircraft, flying for Karachi, had crashed an airport boundary fence, killing 21 of the 38 people on board.
Probable cause: “The captain did not properly observe and interpret his flight instruments and thus inadvertently permitted the aircraft to descend to the ground immediately after a night take off during which no visual reference was possible. A contributory factor may have been the slow reactions of captain due to his state of health.”
On March 26, 1965, another PIA Peshawar-Chitral flight had crashed at Lowari Pass near Dir valley, killing 22 of the 26 people on board.
On May 20, 1965, a Pakistan International Airlines Boeing 707 had crashed on its inaugural flight while attempting to land at Cairo airport, killing 119 people.
Probable cause: “The aircraft did not maintain adequate height for the circuit and continued to descend until it contacted the ground. The reason for that abnormal continuation of descent is unknown”.
On February 2, 1966, a PIA helicopter had crashed near Faridpur after striking a vulture in cruise flight, killing 23 of the 24 humans onboard.
On August 6, 1970, a Rawalpindi to Lahore flight had nosedived Rawat, killing 30 people on board.
On December 8, 1972, flying from Gilgit to Rawalpindi, a PIA Fokker F27 had nose-dived into a snow-capped mountain village called Maidan near Jallkot, killing at least 31 people.
On November 26, 1979, a PIA Boeing 707 bringing home Pakistani Hajj pilgrims from Saudi Arabia had crashed shortly after take-off from Jeddah airport, killing 156 people.
On October 23, 1986, a PIA Fokker F27 had met an accident, while it was coming in to land in Peshawar, killing 13 of the 54 people on board.
On August 17, 1988, a US-made Hercules C-130 military aircraft had crashed near Bahawalpur, after it had caught fire, killing the then military ruler General Ziaul Haq and 30 others including Pakistani generals and the US ambassador.
On August 25, 1989, a PIA Fokker carrying 54 people had disappeared after leaving Gilgit in northern Pakistan. The wreckage has never been found. This was one of the most terrible plane accidents of Pakistan’s Aviation history.
On September 28, 1992, a PIA Airbus A300 had hit a cloud-covered hillside on approach to the Nepalese capital, Kathmandu, after the plane had reportedly descended too early, killing 167 people.
On February 19, 2003, an Air Force Fokker F27 had crashed in the fog-shrouded mountains near Kohat, killing Pakistan Air Force Chief Mushaf Ali Meer, his wife and 15 others.
On February 24, 2003, a chartered Cessna 402-B carrying Afghan Mines and Industries Minister Juma Mohammad Mohammadi, four Afghan officials, a Chinese mining executive and two Pakistani crew members had plunged into the Arabian Sea near Karachi.
On July 10, 2006, a Multan to Lahore Fokker flight could not reach its destination as it had crashed into a wheat field after burning into flames just about 10 minutes after the takeoff. Resultantly, all the 41 passengers and crew members were killed. Amongst the ill-fated passengers were the Vice-Chancellor of Bahauddin Zakariya University, Prof Dr Naseer Khan, and an internationally known Pakistani neurosurgeon, Prof Iftikhar Ali Raja.
On July 28, 2010, an Airblue Airlines aircraft (flying from Karachi) had smashed into the Margalla Hills outside Islamabad while it was preparing to land. All 152 people onboard had lost lives.
On November 5, 2010, a twin-engine plane, operated by Pakistani charter JS Air, had crashed shortly after take-off in Karachi, killing all 21 people on board. The plane was carrying staff of an Italian company to the Bhit gas field in Jamshoro district, where they were going on an exploration mission.
On November 28, 2010, at least 12 people were killed when a Russian-made cargo plane operated by a Georgian airline Sunway had crashed seconds after taking off from Karachi.
On April 20, 2012, a Bhoja Airlines plane, flying from Karachi to Islamabad, had confronted a tragedy after it was trapped in bad weather near the Pakistani capital. Officials said over 125 people had resultantly perished. This was the second-deadliest aviation accident in Pakistan after the July 2010 crash that had killed all 152 onboard, and was the fourth deadliest accident involving the Boeing 737-200 series.
On June 24, 2014, a female passenger had received a fatal bullet injury after a PIA Flight PK-756 was fired at during landing approach to Peshawar Airport. Meanwhile, two male flight attendants had received non-fatal bullet injuries. However, the aircraft had landed safely at Peshawar Airport. It was soon repaired and returned to service.
On December 7, 2016, a PIA ATR-42 aircraft crashes enroute from Chitral to Islamabad. The crash claims lives of all 48 passengers and crew, including singer-cum-evangelist Junaid Jamshed.
On May 22, 2020, a PIA A-320 commercial airliner crashed near the Karachi airport. Over 100 people were onboard the plane.