At least 82 people were killed when a Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) plane with 99 people on board crashed into a densely populated residential area near the Jinnah International Airport in Karachi on Friday afternoon.
Sindh Health Minister Azra Pechuho told the media late Friday night that 82 bodies have been recovered from the site of the crash so far. However, it is unclear if the deceased 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.
Here’s all you need to know about the crash:
1. 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 (Credit: Google Images via Twitter/@FootballHmk)
Also, the majority of residents of the colony are the people, who migrated from India in 1947 during partition. Local journalists told India Today TV that most of these people or their ancestors had come from Uttar Pradesh or Bihar.
2. Dozens of people injured, houses damaged
“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.
4. 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.
5. Crash caught on CCTV
Here’s footage from a CCTV camera that shows the exact moment PIA PK 8303 crashed:
Horrifying, tragic. An @Official_PIA Airbus A320 has crashed in a residential area in Karachi. There were 107 on board. Had taken off from Lahore, crashed during approach to Jinnah Int’l Airport, Karachi. pic.twitter.com/n7dR9lI99N
— Shiv Aroor (@ShivAroor) May 22, 2020
The video shows thr flight losing altitude and crashing into the residential society not far from Karachi airport. Thick black smoke rose from the accident scene in the Model Colony area.
— Gharidah Farooqi (@GFarooqi) May 22, 2020
6. ‘Have lost engines, Mayday’: Pilot’s recording
Seconds before the crash, the pilot told air traffic controllers he had lost power from both engines, according to a recording posted on liveatc.net, a respected aviation monitoring website.
“We are returning back, sir, we have lost engines,” a man was heard saying in a recording released by the website. The controller freed up both the airport’s runways but moments later the man called, “Mayday! Mayday! Mayday!”.
There was no further communication from the plane, according to the tape, which could not immediately be authenticated.
#Breaking : “We have lost Engines and may day”, were the last Words from Pilot Flying #PIA Plane From #Lahore To #Karachi.
Listen the conversation between Pilot of #PIA #Airbus320 And control tower before it crashed near #Karachi. pic.twitter.com/TKuozE15i1
— Ravinder Singh Robin (@rsrobin1) May 22, 2020
7. Signal lost 5 minutes before scheduled landing
The PIA flight PK 8303 had taken off from Lahore at 1 pm and was supposed to land at Karachi airport at 2:45 pm when the crash happened.
As per the data released by FlightRadar, a flight monitoring site, PIA flight PK 8303 took off from Lahore 1:05 pm (Pak timing). At 2:34 pm, the aircraft made a landing attempt that was aborted at 275 feet and the aircraft climbed up to 3,175 feet. Signal was lost at 02:40 at 525 feet.
8. Survivor’s account
Engineer Muhammad Zubair who survived the crash, told Geo News the pilot came down for one landing, briefly touched down, then took off again.
After around 10 more minutes of flying, the pilot announced to passengers he was going to make a second attempt, then crashed as he approached the runway, Zubair said from his bed in Civil Hospital Karachi.
“All I could see around was smoke and fire,” he added. “I could hear screams from all directions. Kids and adults. All I could see was fire. I couldn’t see any people – just hear their screams.
“I opened my seat belt and saw some light – I went towards the light. I had to jump down about 10 feet to get to safety.”
9. Rescue operations
Ambulances, fire tenders and relief teams had to face a large crowd gathered at the crash site.
“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.
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.
10. Pakistan leaders, PM Modi condole loss of lives
Meanwhile, President Arif Alvi expressed grief and sorrow over the loss of lives in the plane crash.
Prime Minister Imran Khan, while expressing deep sorrow over the loss of precious lives as a result of the PIA passenger plane crash in Karachi, has ordered an immediate inquiry into the incident.
Pakistan Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa condoled the loss of lives and directed the military to provide full assistance to the civil administration in rescue and relief efforts.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi condoled the loss of lives in the plane crash 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.
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) May 22, 2020
Timing of plane crash
The crash comes nearly a week after the Covid-19-induced air travel restrictions were lifted by the Pakistani government.
The crash happened on the eve of Eid, when Muslims travel to visit their relatives. The accident occurred on a day when the interior ministry announced Eid holidays from May 22 to May 27, even as the country was facing a spike in the coronavirus cases.
This is the first major aircraft crash in Pakistan after December 7, 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.
(With inputs from agencies)