KARACHI, Pakistan—When the plane jolted violently, Mohammad Zubair thought it was turbulence. Then the pilot came on the intercom to warn that the landing could be “troublesome.”
Moments later, the Pakistan International Airlines flight crashed into a crowded neighborhood near Karachis international airport, killing 97 people, all of whom are believed to be passengers and crew members. Zubair was one of just two surviving passengers.
“The black box had been found late yesterday, we are handing it over to the inquiry board,” PIA spokesman Abdullah Hafiz Khan said. He said that included both the flight data recorder and the cockpit voice recorder.
Meeran Yousaf, the provincial Health Department spokeswoman, said only 19 of the bodies from Fridays crash have been identified and that most of the bodies were badly burned. Eight people on the ground were injured, including four who are still hospitalized, and all residents are accounted for, she said.
The plane crashed near Jinnah International Airport, in the poor and congested residential area known as Model Colony. Khan said the aircraft destroyed or heavily damaged 18 homes.
Civil Aviation Authority spokesman Abdul Sattar Kokhar said the Airbus A230 was carrying 91 passengers and eight crew members. The only other survivor of the crash was Zafar Masood, a bank executive. Both surviving passengers werent badly hurt, an escape described as “miraculous” by authorities.
In a telephone interview from his hospital bed, Zubair, a mechanical engineer, said flight PK8308 had taken off on time from the eastern city of Lahore at 1 p.m. It was a smooth, uneventful flight until the aircraft began its descent near Karachi shortly before 3 p.m.
“Suddenly the plane jerked violently, once and then again,” said Zubair. The aircraft turned and the pilots voice came over the intercom. They were experiencing engine trouble and the landing could be “troublesome,” the pilot said. That was the last thing Zubair remembered until he woke up in a scene of chaos.
“I saw so much smoke and fire. I heard people crying, children crying.”
He crawled his way out of the smoke and rubble and was eventually pulled from the ground and rushed into an ambulance.
Pakistan had only earlier this week resumed domestic flights ahead of Eid-al Fitr, which marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan. Many of the passengers aboard the flight were families returning home for the holiday, said Science Minister Fawad Ahmed Chaudhry.
Between the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus pandemic and the plane crash, this year has been a “catastrophe,” he said.
“What is most unfortunate and sad is whole families have died, whole families who were traveling together for the Eid holiday,” he told The Associated Press.
Social media and local news reports said Zara Abid, an actor, and an award-winning model was among those killed. A senior banker, his wife, and three young children were also reportedly killed. Shabaz Hussein, whose mother died in the crash, told The Associated Press he identified her body at a local hospital and was waiting to take it away for burial.
Pakistan has been in a countrywide lockdown since mid-March because of the CCP virus, and when flights resumed every other seat was left vacant to promote social distancing.
Southern Sindh province, of which Karachi is the capital, is the epicenter of Pakistans outbreak, with nearly 20,000 of the countrys more than 50,000 cases. Pakistan has reported 1,101 deaths from the COVID-19 disease caused by the virus.
A transmission of the pilots final exchange with air traffic control, posted on the website LiveATC.net, indicated he had failed to land and was circling to make another attempt.
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