Ninety-seven died but four passengers miraculously survived a deadly crash after a Pakistan International Airlines plane with 99 travellers on board plunged into a densely populated residential area near the Jinnah International Airport in Karachi, officials said here.
Sindh Health Minister Azra Pechuho told the media that the bodies have been recovered from the site of the crash so far.
However, it is unclear if those killed were all on board the flight or include residents of the area where the crash took place.
The PIA Airbus A320 was carrying 91 passengers including 31 women and nine children along with eight crew members.
Site of crash
Flight PK-8303 from Lahore crashed at the Jinnah Garden area near Model Colony in Malir minutes before its landing in Karachi.
The flight crash-landed into the Jinnah Housing Society located near the airport, a spokesperson of the national carrier said.
The passengers included 31 women and nine children.
“The aeroplane first hit a mobile tower and crashed over houses,” witness Shakeel Ahmed said near the site, a few kilometres short of the airport.
The site of crash, Model Colony, is right next to the Jinnah International Airport in Karachi.
Also, the majority of residents of the colony are Mohajhir people, who migrated from India in 1947 during partition.
Their ancestors had come from Uttar Pradesh or Bihar and organisation like MQM claiming to represent them have fought a bitter urban insurgency to back their claim to be recognised as the fitth nationality in post 1971 Pakistan.
“We don’t know exactly how many are injured as yet as we were already in an emergency situation due to Covid-19 (outbreak)…,” Sindh Health Minister Azra Pechuho said.
Faisal Edhi of the Edhi Welfare Trust 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.
Television channels showed several houses and cars damaged in the society where the aircraft crashed.
At least four people have been pulled out alive from under the debris.
Bank of Punjab President Zafar Masood, who was a Premium Economy passenger on the flight, survived the crash. He is in the hospital from where he called up his mother to inform her of his well-being. The bank said he had suffered fractures but was “conscious and responding well”.
The CEO of Pak PSU Urban Unit, Khalid Sherdil, was also among the survivors.
Another passenger Ammar Rashid, who was on the plane, survived the crash and is being treated for his injuries at a nearby hospital, his family said on social media.
Engineer Mohammed Zubair, seated on 8F, also survived the crash and is admitted in a hospital.
Pakistani actress Ayeza Khan took to Instagram to refute rumours of her and husband, Danish Taimoor, being on the PIA flight.
However, Pakistani model Zara Abid, who was among the passengers on the ill-fated PIA flight, is feared dead.
Cause of crash
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.
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 the 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 came for landing but just before landing the pilot said he was going for a go-around. While coming for a 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. Malik said that the entire operation will take two to three days to complete.
Pakistan has set up a four-member board of inquiry to know the cause of the crash.