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Pakistani airliner crashes into neighbourhood, 80 confirmed dead

Jack Burton

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PHOTO: CNN

UPDATE: As of 3:30pm, the death toll in the incident has risen to 97.

A Pakistan International Airlines plane carrying 99 people crashed into a crowded Karachi neighbourhood yesterday afternoon after trying twice to land at the airport, according to an eyewitness. Provincial health authorities have confirmed at least 80 dead but it’s not clear whether they included casualties on the ground.

2 passengers survived, including Zafar Masood, president of the Bank of Punjab, according to a government spokesman. The bank says he suffered fractures but is “conscious and responding well.”

Engineer Muhammad Zubair, the other survivor, told reporters the pilot came in for one landing, touched down briefly, but took off again. After about 10 more minutes in the air, he announced he was going to make a second attempt, but crashed as he approached the runway

“All I could see around was smoke and fire. I could hear screams from all directions. Kids and adults. All I could see was fire. I couldn’t see any people, just hear their screams.”

“I opened my seat belt and saw some light. I went towards the light. I had to jump down about 10 feet to get to safety.”

The crash happened on the eve of the Muslim Eid Mubarak festival, marking the end of the holy month of Ramadan, when Pakistanis travel to visit relatives. Smoke gushed from the site where flight PK 8303 crashed at about 2:45pm, its twisted fuselage lying in the rubble of multi-storey buildings as ambulances rushed through crowds.

Authorities say the Airbus A320 was flying from the eastern city of Lahore to Karachi in the south with 91 passengers and eight crew, just as Pakistan was resuming domestic flights in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

Seconds before the crash, the pilot told air traffic controllers he had lost power from both engines, according to a recording posted on liveatc.net, a respected aviation monitoring website.

SOURCE: Reuters

 

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Jack Burton is an American writer, broadcaster, linguist and journalist who has lived in Asia since 1987. A native of the state of Georgia, he attended the The University of Georgia's Henry Grady School of Journalism, which hands out journalism's prestigious Peabody Awards. His works have appeared in The China Post, The South China Morning Post, The International Herald Tribune and many magazines throughout Asia and the world. He is fluent in Mandarin and has appeared on television and radio for decades in Taiwan, Mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau.

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