ISLAMABAD  - Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) on Wednesday diverted its London-bound flight for an emergency landing at Warsaw Airport on 'humanitarian grounds' to provide medical assistance to a passenger on board who suffered a heart attack.

The flight had originated from Islamabad. Later, the passenger was said to be in stable condition. Leaving the medically ill passenger at the Warsaw Airport where he was undergoing emergency treatment, the said flight left for London. It stayed in Warsaw for over an hour.

According to details, a PIA flight PK-785 left for Heathrow Airport London from Benazir Bhutto International Airport (BBIA) Islamabad at 11:00am (Pakistan's time) on Wednesday and was scheduled to land in London at 03:00pm.

Soon after the flight took off, a British-Pakistani national passenger identified as Raja Nazir, 57, started feeling pain in the chest. Gradually, his condition worsened. Two heart specialists boarding the same flight provided him initial treatment while observing that the passenger might have suffered a heart stroke. This prompted the PIA authorities to ask the Warsaw aviation officials for an emergency landing at the Warsaw Chopin Airport. The flight was allowed to land at the said airport where a team of doctors found out that Nazir actually had a heart stroke and needed immediate treatment.

Confirming the incident, the PIA Spokesperson Mashhood Tajwar said that the flight had an emergency landing out of humanitarian grounds. "It was a life-threatening situation for the passenger whose heart malfunctioned during the flight. He could have faced any untoward situation had the emergency treatment not been provided. For the required medical support to the patient, the flight had to be landed at the Warsaw Airport," he told this correspondent.

The PIA authorities, Tajwar said, were in contact with the Warsaw Airport management regarding the treatment of the passenger. "It was not advisable for the patient to travel in such a serious condition which is why he has been left there for treatment."

According to Pakistani time, the said flight reached London at 5:30pm, the spokesperson informed.

Speaking to this newspaper from Warsaw, Spokesmen Warsaw Chopin Airport Przemyslaw Przybylski said that the patient was in stable condition after getting the emergency treatment. "He is feeling better now. The emergency phase is over. The doctors had administered him life-saving injections and blood thinners required during this kind of health situation," he said.

To a query, the spokesman said that physicians had strongly recommended the heart patient not to travel for a fortnight at least. "He would be examined on daily basis. The doctors would allow the patient to travel only when they deem it suitable once he fully recovers."

Raja Nazir's family members have been informed about the incident, Przybylski said. It was initially not clear if they wanted to arrive in Warsaw to visit him, he added. "The Pakistani authorities have informed Nazir's family members about this happening. We've been told that his family has British nationality. So visa issues and all the related requirements would not be a problem for them in case they want to come here. Even if they needed visa, it could be issued on urgent basis, as per the policy of the government of Poland. As of now, we haven't had any intimation that the family members would be coming here. Arrangements would be made to facilitate their stay here as soon as we receive update about their arrival."

Under the existing international aviation and diplomatic laws, the international flights are generally authorised to make emergency landings at the nearest destinations if faced with any life-threatening situation (to the flights as well as individual passengers.) "Although this law has no binding effect but as a good will gesture and on humanitarian grounds, the states usually don't refuse requests for emergency landings in life-threatening situations," officials said.