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‘Mayday, Mayday,’ says pilot moments before Pakistan plane crash that killed 97

Volunteers and soldiers look for survivors of a plane crash in a residential area of Karachi, Pakistan.

Volunteers and soldiers look for survivors of a plane crash in a residential area of Karachi, Pakistan.   | Photo Credit: AP

The Pakistan International Airlines plane carrying 91 passengers and eight crew members crash-landed into the Jinnah Housing Society located near the Karachi airport.

Ninety-seven people were killed and two 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 here, officials 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, they said. Eleven people on the ground were injured.

Sindh health officials have said that 97 people have been confirmed dead, while two survived the crash, Dawn News reported on Saturday.

Both the survivors are in stable condition and 19 victims have been identified, the report said.

The Airbus A320 aircraft of the national carrier had 91 passengers and a crew of eight.

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, damaging several houses, the report added.

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 are two survivors, including President of the Bank of Punjab Zafar Masood. He called up his mother to inform her of his well-being.

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.

Cause yet to be acertained

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 with 99 people on board 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.

The board has been asked to complete the probe within shortest possible time, according to an official notification by the Aviation Division of the government.

Last moments on record

Pakistan’s Dunya News said it had obtained a recording of the conversation, also posted on monitoring website liveatc.net.

In it, the pilot says they have “lost two engines”. Several seconds later he calls “Mayday, Mayday, Mayday” and there is no further communication.

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.

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 coronavirus pandemic.

Television channels showed several houses and cars damaged in the society where the aircraft crashed.

The plane lost contact with the air traffic control at 2.37 PM (local time), PIA spokesperson Abdullah Hafeez said. He said that the passengers included 31 women and nine children.

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.

Friday’s 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.

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Printable version | Jun 2, 2020 7:28:29 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/mayday-mayday-says-pilot-moments-before-pakistan-plane-crash-that-killed-many/article31656135.ece

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