| Tragedy strikes days before Eid | PIA CEO Air Marshal Malik says rescue operation to take 2-3 days | Aircraft was 16 years old and was in good condition | It joined the PIA fleet on dry lease six years ago and underwent major A-check in March 2020 | DG ISPR Maj Gen Babar Iftikhar says Pak-Army USR team sent to speed up relief, rescue efforts

KARACHI/ISLAMABAD/LAHORE             -            The Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) passenger plane PK-8303 air bus crashed near the Jinnah International Airport on Friday afternoon soon before landing.

The plane coming from Lahore crashed in a residential area in Model Colony, eyewitness said. The PIA spokesman said that the incident took place at 2:39pm and the unfortunate flight was carrying 91 passengers and 8 crew members on board.

According to a spokesman for the Aviation Division, “The PIA’s flight from Lahore to Karachi crashed.” He said as many as 91 passengers and eight crew members (total 99) were onboard the PIA flight PK-8303 , which crashed in close proximity of the Karachi airport, as per the updated information received from Lahore Airport . The spokesman said a message had been received from the Air Traffic Control that this aircraft had crashed close to landing at the Karachi airport.

According to PIA spokesperson, the flight was coming from Lahore and carrying 91 passengers and seven crew members. Rescue workers said at least 35 dead bodies were shifted to hospitals till late Friday.

However, it was still unclear that all deceased were on the crashed plane or the residents of the area. The crash also caused major damage in the area as a dozen homes and cars were damaged.

The flight was due to land at Jinnah International Airport Karachi at 2:45 pm but crashed in the residential area few moments before the landing.

The Bank of Punjab President Zafar Masud and a woman identified as Tahira survived. They were shifted to a hospital but their condition was stable.

About casualties, Sindh Minister for Health Dr Azra Fazal Pechuho told reporters that as many as 11 bodies and 6 injured were received at the hospital. She said the doctors were already on alert due to the COVID-19 pandemic while emergency has been declared in all hospitals across the city.

Rescue and relief operation was underway at the site of incident till late Friday.

Meanwhile, Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah accompanied by his Advisor Murtaza Wahab visited the site of incident. The CM was informed by the Deputy Commissioner Korangi that the plane damaged around 12 to 15 houses of the area.

To a question, the chief minister was told that two passengers including President Bank of Punjab were rescued from the plane, otherwise there seemed to be complete loss of life. The chief minister was also informed that four houses were completely damaged and three women were rescued from there. It was also disclosed that some of the bodies were also recovered from the damaged houses.

Later CM Sindh also visited Dr Zafar Masud at Darul Sehat hospital, one of the miraculous survivor of the plane crash incident, informed the spokesman to CM. Sindh Minister for Education Saeed Ghani also visited the site of incident to inspect the rescue operations underway. Talking to media he expressed his grief and sorrow over the unfortunate incident.

He said the figures of casualties cannot be confirmed as the rescue operation is still underway. Saeed Ghani said the rescue teams had immediately rushed to the spot.

Over one dozen homes damages

Later, Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah was told that the Pakistan International Airlines – PIA’s plane crash has damaged 12 to 15 houses in the area when the broken parts of the plane damaged the windows and doors of the houses as well as broke out fire in some of the houses. 

Deputy Commissioner Korangi Shaharyar Memon briefed this to the CM Sindh at the site of the incident, said a spokesperson to the CM Sindh on Friday. The chief minister along with his advisor Murtaza Wahab personally visited the spot, Kazimabad, subdivision Model Colony, District Korangi where the plane crashed. Shaharyar Memon told the CM Sindh that the fire has been extinguished and cooling procedure has been started.

Syed Murad Ali Shah also appreciated the administration, police, Rangers, revenue officials and ambulance staff for their rescue work. “I know you are fasting but even then your spirit is high in the rescue operation,” he said.

Earlier, the CM Sindh just after the plane crash talked to Additional IG Karachi Ghulam Nabi Memon and Commissioner Karachi Iftikhar Shahalwani and directed them to rush to the spot and expedite rescue operation.

The chief minister directed them “I want you to make all out efforts to save lives,” this is important, said a spokesperson to the CM Sindh on Friday. Meanwhile, he directed health department to declare emergency in the hospitals and arrange blood and other required medicines apart from ensuring presence of senior doctors on the duty.

Army Quick Reaction Force launches rescue operation

Director General Inter Services Public Relations (DG ISPR) Major Babar Iftikhar Friday said Army Quick Reaction Force and Pakistan Rangers Sindh troops reached the incident site for relief and rescue efforts alongside civil administration. In a tweet, he said further details would follow as the relief and rescue efforts were underway. It may be mentioned here that the tragic air crash of PIA Airbus 320 aircraft took place near Karachi airport.

Inquiry into PIA plane crash incident

Minister for Aviation Ghulam Sarwar Khan on Friday ordered an immediate inquiry into the plane crash incident of Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) that took flight from Lahore but went down near Karachi airport. Expressing grief and sorrow over the tragedy, the minister ordered the Aircraft Accident Investigation Board to hold an immediate inquiry into the incident.

The minister chaired a high level meeting which was attended by Secretary Aviation Mr Hassan Nasir Jamy and senior officers of the Aviation Division. The meeting was also attended by senior management of PIA and the Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority via video link from Karachi.

Mr Hassan Nasir Jamy, Secretary Aviation briefed the minister about the details of the tragic incident received so far. He also briefed the Minister that Aircraft Accident Investigation Board was being tasked to carry out the aircraft accident investigation.

Air Marshal Arshad Malik, CEO PIA also briefed the meeting regarding the tragic incident. He explained that Captain Sajjad Gull was senior most A320 pilot with extensive flight experience. The aircraft involved in crash was 16 years old and was in very good condition. It joined the PIA fleet on dry lease six years ago. It underwent its major A-check in March 2020. The aircraft carried out eight flights since 21st March, 2020 when the domestic and international flights were suspended in view of efforts to control the spread of COVID-19.

Ghulam Sarwar Khan directed that the Aircraft Investigation Committee be constituted on most immediate basis. Immediately thereafter, an Investigation Team headed Air Commodore Usman Ghani, President Aircraft Accident Investigation Board was constituted with the approval of the Federal Government. Minister for Aviation further directed that the Investigation Team may submit its preliminary findings within one month. He directed that five family members of each passenger may be provided air tickets to reach Karachi.

CEO PIA informed that Airport Hotel shall be available for stay of the family members of the passengers of the ill-fated aircraft. Minister for Aviation directed that insurance compensation be paid to the next of kin on most immediate basis.

The minister for Aviation will visit Karachi Saturday today in order to have detailed meeting with the Civil Aviation Authority and the PIA Management. He will meet the families of the passengers. He will also visit the crash site and meet the residents of the houses damaged by the aircraft crash. He will also hold a Press Conference at Karachi on the same date.