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Dozens die in PIA Karachi plane crash

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KARACHI: A passenger plane with nearly 100 people on board crashed in a residential area of the port city on Friday, killing dozens of people.
Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) Karachi bound flight from Lahore (PK-8303) was close to landing at Jinnah International Airport when it came down among houses, sending plumes of smoke into the air that could be seen from some distance away. It was unclear if the dead were all passengers or also included people on the ground till filing of this report.
PIA spokesman Abdullah Hafeez said there were 91 passengers and seven crew on board the flight, which lost contact with air traffic control just after 2:30pm. “It is too early to comment on the cause of the crash,” he said.
Abdul Sattar Khokhar, the spokesman for Civil Aviation Authority, said the Airbus A320 was travelling from Lahore to Karachi.
Pakistan military said security forces have been deployed to the area and helicopters are being used to survey the damage and help ongoing rescue operations.
“Our plane A320 which was coming from Lahore to Karachi …the last words for the pilot were that there is a technical problem and he was told on final approach that he has both runways available to him. But the pilot indicated that he wanted to go around,” PIA’s CEO Arshad Malik said in a video message released after the crash.
Meeran Yousuf, spokeswoman for the health department in Sindh province, said at least 30 people have died and several others are wounded.
Sindh’s Health Minister Azra Pechucho said at least 11 bodies and six wounded people were taken to Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC).
“Eleven dead bodies have been brought here and six wounded have been brought here,” she said, speaking at Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre. “Of the six [wounded], four are stable and two are burns cases.”
Pechucho added, “We are doing DNA testing of the dead bodies so that they can be identified and they can be given to their families.”
Images shown on national television showed plumes of smoke above congested residential apartment buildings, with fire trucks en route to the scene of the crash.
Television footage from the scene showed a number of ambulances unable to make progress in the narrow lanes of the residential neighbourhood where the crash took place, as people crowded in towards the site.
The disaster comes as Pakistanis across the country are preparing to celebrate the end of Ramazan and the beginning of Eidul Fitr, with many travelling back to their homes in cities and villages.
Pakistan resumed limited domestic commercial flights last week, after a months-long suspension due to the coronavirus. Flights are operating with reduced capacity to ensure that passengers are sitting with one seat’s space between them in cabins.
The rescue operation was conducted jointly by personnel of Pak Army, Rangers and civil administration while fire tenders of Pakistan Navy were also at the site. Pakistan Air Force is also rendering services for the relief and rescue operation in the area.
As per the initial reports, the plane had developed some technical fault before landing that caused the crash; however, the actual cause will be ascertained after the thorough investigation.
Army Urban Search and Rescue Team with special equipment and rescue specialists flew from Rawalpindi through a special C130 flight to speed up relief and rescue efforts at plane crash site in Karachi.
According to ISPR, ten fire tenders employed at the site extinguished the fire. Military ambulances were seen busy rescuing the injured and providing necessary medical care.
Meanwhile, PIA has activated its emergency call centre while all the operational staff has been called for duty.
The Sindh government declared emergency at all the hospitals of Karachi to accommodate and provide the best medical care to the affectees of the incident.
Minister for Information and Broadcasting Syed Shibli Faraz said the details of passengers are being collected, which will be shared, after compilation, with the media.
Syed Shibli Faraz appealed the general public to refrain from visiting the crash site as it will create hurdles in the way of rescue operation.
He said the federal government is in contact with the Sindh government and both are making all-out efforts in rescue operation. He said an information desk was being established to have a contact with families of the passengers. – TLTP