Karachi: Ninety-seven people, including nine children, were killed and two passengers miraculously survived a fiery crash when a Pakistan International Airlines plane with 99 travellers on board plunged into a densely populated residential area near the airport here, the Army said on Saturday.
Flight PK-8303 from Lahore crashed at the Jinnah Garden area near Model Colony in Malir on Friday afternoon, minutes before its landing in Karachi’s Jinnah International Airport. Eleven people on the ground were injured.
The Pakistan Army, leading the rescue and relief efforts, said 97 bodies have been recovered and two passengers survived the crash.
Army spokesman Major General Babar Iftikhar tweeted, Rescue operation in progress by Army Search & Rescue Team, Army troops, Rangers & social welfare orgs. 97 bodies recovered. 2 passengers survived. 25 affected houses cleared, their residents accommodated at various places with assistance of Civil Administration.
He said that residents of the 25 affected houses have been shifted to different places.
The Sindh Health Ministry on Saturday reported that 66 bodies were shifted to Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC) and 31 to Civil Hospital Karachi (CHK). A total of 19 bodies have been identified so far, the Express Tribune reported.
The Airbus A320 aircraft of the national carrier had 91 passengers and a crew of eight.
According to the passenger list released by the PIA after the crash, there were 51 men, 31 women and nine children on board the aircraft, Geo News reported. However, details about the crew are not yet known.
Meeran Yousuf, the media coordinator for the Sindh health minister, said that the majority of the injured were women, as it was time for Friday prayers when the crash occurred. She added that all the injured residents were in stable condition.
Sindh Health Minister Azra Pechuho said there were two survivors, including President of the Bank of Punjab Zafar Masood.
A third person, who had earlier been identified as a survivor from the plane, was later confirmed to be a resident of the area where the plane crashed. She was among the 11 persons, who were injured when the plane crashed into the residential area, Dawn news reported.
Meanwhile, Pakistan Airlines’ Pilots Association (Palpa), pilots representative body, has demanded a thorough investigation into the crash, but at the same time it vowed to continue flights.
We will not accept the way the investigation (has been) carried out in the past and will not accept any inquiry into this accident without the inclusion of Palpa, Captain Imran Narejo, the association’s general secretary, said.
It called for involving bodies like the International Civil Aviation Organisation and International Federation of Air Line Pilots’ Associations in the investigation.
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”.
The plane came for landing but just before that 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 to the 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.
The board has been asked to complete the probe within the shortest possible time, according to an official notification by the Aviation Division of the government.
The flight was coming from Lahore to Karachi after the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) allowed limited resumption of domestic flights last Saturday following weeks of lockdown due to the travel restrictions linked to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Pakistan has a history of terrible air accidents. The last one was in 2016, when a PIA ATR-42 aircraft from Chitral to Islamabad crashed midway. The crash claimed the lives of all 48 passengers and the crew
The worst was in 2010 when a private AirBlue plane crashed in the Margalla hills adjacent to Islamabad killing 152 people.
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