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The Financial Express

Pakistan plane crash leaves at least 66 dead

Published: May 22, 2020 23:52:27 | Updated: May 23, 2020 09:45:12


Photo: Dawn Photo: Dawn

At least 66 people were killed in a plane crash that took place near an airport in Karachi, the capital of the Pakistani province of Sindh, on Friday.

However, Sindh officials said it is unclear if the deceased were all onboard the flight or include area residents as well where the crash took place, report Dawn and AP.

Two people are confirmed to have survived the crash, according to officials.

A Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) passenger plane, with an estimated 99 people onboard, crashed in Karachi's Model Colony near Jinnah International Airport on Friday.

PIA spokesperson Abdullah Hafeez said that the A320 Airbus was carrying 91 passengers and 8 crew members from Lahore to Karachi on PK 8303.

Eyewitnesses said the Airbus A320 appeared to attempt to land two or three times before crashing in a residential area near the airport.

“The aeroplane first hit a mobile tower and crashed over houses,” witness Shakeel Ahmed said near the site, just a few kilometres short of the airport, according to Reuters.

Meeran Yousuf, the media coordinator for the Sindh health minister, confirmed that two passengers had survived and were brought to hospitals. She identified the survivors as Zubair and Zafar Masood, who is the president of Bank of Punjab.

"Zubair has 35 per cent burns and is being treated at the [Dr Ruth Pfau] Civil Hospital Karachi, while Masood has four fractures and is being treated at the Darul Sehat Hospital," said Yousuf, adding that both were in stable condition. Moreover, she added that five victims had been identified so far.

A third person, who had earlier been identified as a survivor from the plane, was later identified to be a resident of the area where the plane crashed.

Footage showed plumes of smoke rising from the site of the crash within the congested residential area. Ambulances and rescue officials arrived at the scene to help residents. Eyewitnesses said that the plane was on fire in the air before crashing.

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan said he was "shocked and saddened by the PIA crash".

"Am in touch with PIA CEO Arshad Malik, who has left for Karachi, and with the rescue and relief teams on ground as this is the priority right now. Immediate inquiry will be instituted. Prayers and condolences go to families of the deceased," he said.

'Technical issue'

According to eyewitnesses, the plane crashed hardly a few hundred feet away from the runway. A transmission of the pilot’s final exchange with air traffic control, posted on the website LiveATC.net, indicated he had failed to land and was circling around to make another attempt.

“We are proceeding direct, sir — we have lost engine,” a pilot can be heard saying.

“Confirm your attempt on belly,” the air traffic controller said, offering a runway.

“Sir - mayday, mayday, mayday, mayday Pakistan 8303,” the pilot said before the transmission ended.

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