By Muhammad Luqman
A Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) passenger plane, with 99 people onboard, crashed in coastal city Karachi’s Model Colony neighborhood near Jinnah International Airport on Friday, killing atleast 97 persons.
According to media reports, rescue crews have retrieved the data recorder from the Pakistan International Airlines plane.
The recorder, or “black box,” was found at the crash site on Saturday, according to PIA spokesman Abdullah Khan.
Two passengers survived but 97 bodies have been recovered from the scene, Pakistan Armed Forces spokesman Major General Babar Iftikhar said.
Iftikhar said army troops, rangers and social welfare organizations have been assisting in the search.
He added: “97 bodies recovered. 2 passengers survived. 25 affected houses cleared, their residents accommodated at various places with the assistance of Civil Administration.”
The survivors include-President of Bank of Punjab, Zafar Masud and a young engineer Muhammad Zubair.
PIA spokesperson Abdullah Khan said that the A320 Airbus was carrying 91 passengers and 8 crew members from Lahore to Karachi on PK 8303.
TV Footage aired on Friday showed plumes of smoke rising from the site of the crash within the congested residential area. Ambulances and rescue officials arrived at the scene soon after the incident to help residents.
PIA Chief Executive Officer Air Marshal Arshad Malik, who arrived in Karachi on Friday evening , said the pilot told the control room that there was a technical issue and he decided to go around rather than land even though two runways were ready for landing.
The jet went down in a residential area, but the plane did not hit any buildings and no one on the ground appears to have been killed, PIA CEO Air Vice Marshal Arshad Malik said.
For his part, Pakistan Airlines Pilots’ Association spokesperson Tariq Yahya, while speaking on Geo News, said that the plane seemed to be gliding at the end. “Communications show that the plane did not have power at the end and was gliding and couldn’t make it to the runway,” said Yahya, adding that it didn’t have power when it was asked to climb to 3,000 feet.
Prime Minister Imran Khan has expressed profound sense of grief over the plane 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.
Shocked & saddened by the PIA crash. Am in touch with PIA CEO Arshad Malik, who has left for Karachi & with the rescue & relief teams on ground as this is the priority right now. Immediate inquiry will be instituted. Prayers & condolences go to families of the deceased.
— Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) May 22, 2020
Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa condoled “loss of precious lives”. “[COAS] Shares grief of bereaved families in this difficult time. COAS directed provision of full assistance to civil administration in rescue/ relief effort,” said Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR).
#COAS condoles loss of precious lives in tragic PIA plane crash. Shares grief of bereaved families in this difficult time. COAS directed provision of full assistance to civil administration in rescue/ relief effort.
— DG ISPR (@OfficialDGISPR) May 22, 2020
A statement by ISPR said Army Quick Reaction Force and Sindh Pakistan Rangers reached the site for relief and rescue efforts alongside civil administration.
Chief Marshal Mujahid Anwar Khan, Chief of the Air Staff, Pakistan Air Force expressed grief over the tragic air crash. He further said that PAF stands by PIA at this difficult time and extends all out support in the rescue operation.
Federal Aviation Minister Ghulam Sarwar also expressed deep grief and sadness over the incident and has ordered the Aircraft Accident Investigation Board to conduct an “immediate inquiry” into the crash.
Pakistan had have deadly air crashes in the past too. In Pakistan’s most recent deadly crash, a PIA plane in 2016 burst into flames after one of its two turboprop engines failed near Havelian while flying from the remote north to Islamabad, killing more than 40 people.
The deadliest air disaster on Pakistani soil was in 2010, when an Airbus A321 operated by private airline Airblue and flying from Karachi crashed into the hills outside Islamabad as it came into land, killing all 152 people on board.
Soon after the crash, condolences from all over the world have started pouring in. US President Donald J. Trump, Saudi King Salman Bin Abdul Aziz and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani have expressed condolences to government and people of Pakistan.
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
Prime Minister of neigbouring India said that he was deeply saddened over 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.
Prime Minister of Canada Justin Trudeau has also expressed condolences to the government and people of Pakistan over the tragic incident.