One of two people who survived a plane crash in Pakistan that killed 97 people said he jumped from the burning wreckage of the plane after it rushed into a residential area.
The Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) plane fell among homes Friday afternoon after the two engines stopped approaching Karachi airport, the airline said.
Its wings sliced across the roofs, sending flames and plumes of smoke into the air as it crashed into a street, triggering a rescue operation that lasted overnight.
Commercial flights to the country resumed just a few days ago, before the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr, after the planes were immobilized during a lockout of the coronavirus pandemic.
“After he knocked and regained consciousness, I saw fire everywhere and no one was visible,” said Mohammad Zubair, 24, from his hospital bed in a video clip broadcast on social networks.
“There were screams from children, adults and the elderly. The screams were everywhere and everyone was trying to survive. I took off my seat belt and I saw the light and I tried to walk towards her. Then I jumped. “
Zubair had suffered burns but was in stable condition, said an official with the Ministry of Health.
The airline has named the other survivor president of the Bank of Punjab, Zafar Masud.
The health ministry of Sindh province, where the port city of Karachi is located in the south of the country, confirmed on Saturday that the 97 bodies found at the accident site were on the plane.
To date, at least 19 of them have been identified, while DNA tests are underway at the University of Karachi to help name the others.
A local hospital previously reported receiving the bodies of those killed on the ground.
The disaster comes as Pakistanis prepare to celebrate the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan and the start of Eid, with numerous trips to their homes in cities and towns.
A PIA spokesperson said air traffic control lost contact with the plane traveling from Lahore to Karachi just after 2:30 p.m. (09:30 GMT).
The pilot made a desperate call after announcing “we have lost engines,” according to an audio recording confirmed by the airline.
PIA Managing Director Arshad Mahmood Malik has described the Airbus A320 as one of the safest aircraft.
“Technically and operationally, everything was in place,” he said, promising an investigation.
Aviation Minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan said the captain, Sajjad Gull, had been described by the airline as a senior A320 pilot with extensive flight experience.
The aircraft first entered service in 2004 and was acquired by PIA a decade later and has logged approximately 47,100 hours of flight time, Airbus said in a statement.
Residents were the first to sift through the charred and twisted wreckage dotted around in search of survivors, witnesses reporting the cries of a man hanging from the plane’s emergency exit door.
Sarfraz Ahmed, a firefighter at the scene of the accident, told AFP that the rescuers had pulled the bodies of the plane still with their seat belts.
Residents near the scene recounted how the walls of their homes trembled before a big explosion erupted when the plane hit the neighborhood.
“I was coming from the mosque when I saw the plane lean to one side. It was so low that the walls of my house were shaking,” said Hassan, 14.
Another resident, Mudassar Ali, said he “heard a loud bang and woke up with people calling the fire department.”
An AFP journalist saw charred bodies loaded into ambulances.
“Shocked and saddened”
Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan said he was “shocked and saddened” by the accident, tweeting that he was in contact with the director general of the state airline.
“Prayers and condolences go to the families of the deceased,” he wrote on Twitter.
The Pakistani military has said that security forces have been deployed to the region and that helicopters have been used to investigate the damage.
Pakistan has a record of checkered military and civilian air security, with frequent plane and helicopter crashes over the years.
In 2016, a PIA plane caught fire after one of its two turboprop engines failed while flying from distant north to Islamabad, killing more than 40 people.
The deadliest air disaster on Pakistani soil occurred in 2010 when an Airbus A321 operated by the private airline Airblue and flying from Karachi crashed into the hills outside Islamabad as it arrived ashore, killing the 152 people on board.
An official report attributes the accident to a confused captain and a hostile cockpit atmosphere.
PIA, a leading airline until the 1970s, saw its reputation shatter due to frequent cancellations, delays and financial problems.
He has been involved in many controversies over the years, including the imprisonment of a drunk pilot in Britain in 2013.
(With the exception of the title, this story was not edited by GalacticGaming staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)