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Karachi: Ninety-seven people, including three children, were killed and two passengers miraculously survived a fiery crash when a Pakistan International Airlines plane with 99 travellers on board plunged into a densely populated residential area near the airport here, the Army said on Saturday.
Flight PK-8303 from Lahore crashed at the Jinnah Garden area near Model Colony in Malir on Friday afternoon, minutes before its landing in Karachi’s Jinnah International Airport. Eleven people on the ground were injured.
The Pakistan Army, leading the rescue and relief efforts, said 97 bodies have been recovered and two passengers survived the crash.
Army spokesman Major General Babar Iftikhar tweeted,“Rescue operation in progress by Army Search & Rescue Team, Army troops, Rangers & social welfare orgs. 97 bodies recovered. 2 passengers survived. 25 affected houses cleared, their residents accommodated at various places with assistance of Civil Administration.”
He said that residents of the 25 affected houses have been shifted to different places.
The Airbus A320 aircraft of the national carrier had 91 passengers and a crew of eight.
Aviation Minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan said that the crash inquiry would be completed as soon as possible.
“I will personally supervise the whole process and we will not spare anybody if held responsible for the crash,” he said at a press conference, adding, “We will try that the report is completed in three months”.
The compensation for the victims, which has been doubled to Rs 1,000,000, would be provided to the next of the kin of those killed in the crash, he said, adding that the insurance money would be separate and paid as early as possible. He said that people whose properties were damaged on the ground would also be compensated.
Chief Executive Officer of PIA Arshad Malik said that 21 bodies have been handed over to the families. Other 76 bodies were being identified after DNA matching.
He said that the plane’s black box was also found and handed over to the investigation board.
Sindh Health Minister Azra Pechhu said that authorities have started taking DNA samples but it may take up to 21 days to match the samples.
She said that 68 men, 26 women and three children were among the deceased. Sindh government spokesman Murtaza Wahab said that 16 people were injured on the ground but none of them fatally.
Ansar Naqvi, senior journalist and director program at 24 News TV channel, was among the crash victims.
An army office, Major Shehryar, his wife and two children also died in the crash.
Pechuho said there were two survivors, including President of the Bank of Punjab Zafar Masood.
A third person, who had earlier been identified as a survivor from the plane, was later confirmed to be a resident of the area where the plane crashed.
She was among the 11 persons, who were injured when the plane crashed into the residential area, Dawn news reported. Meanwhile, Pakistan Airlines’ Pilots Association (PALPA), pilots representative body, has demanded a thorough investigation into the crash, but at the same time it vowed to continue flights.
“We will not accept the way the investigation (has been) carried out in the past and will not accept any inquiry into this accident without the inclusion of Palpa,” Captain Imran Narejo, the association’s general secretary, said.
According to a PIA official, the captain informed the air traffic control that he was having problems with the landing gear before the aircraft disappeared from the radar.
The cause of the crash is yet to be confirmed. PIA chief executive Air Vice Marshal Arshad Malik said the pilot had told traffic control that the plane was experiencing “technical difficulties”.
The plane came for landing but just before that the pilot said he was going for a go-around. While coming for a second landing, it developed some problems and crashed.
“The real cause of the mishap will be known after inquiry, which will be free and fair and it will be provided to the media,” he said.
Malik said that the entire operation will take two to three days to complete. Pakistan has set up a four-member board of inquiry to know the cause of the crash.
The flight was coming from Lahore to Karachi after the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) allowed limited resumption of domestic flights last Saturday following weeks of lockdown due to the travel restrictions linked to the COVID-19 outbreak. (PTI)