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Scenes from the plane crash in Karachi, Pakistan on May 22, 2020.

PHOTO BY TWITTER


More clues as crashed PIA plane blackbox found

 

DUBAI – A Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) airplane carrying 99 people on board had crashed minutes before it could land in Karachi on May 22, with the terrifying last moments in the cockpit caught on flight audio.

Pakistan’s civil aviation authority said there had been 91 passengers and eight crew members onboard the Airbus A320. At least two people miraculously survived the crash.

May 28 update: Landing gear issue, plane hit runway thrice

The pilot tried to land on Karachi airport without announcing that he couldn’t open his landing gear, and the plane hit the runway three times, Minister for Civil Aviation Ghulam Sarwar Khan told reporters on Thursday (May 28).

Khan said the engines of flight PK8303 touched the ground three times on the first attempt at landing. It crashed less than a mile short of the runway on its second landing attempt.

Search teams were able to recover the cockpit voice recorder from the wreckage. The French air safety investigation authority will be joining the Pakistan team to examine the recorder.

“The pilot never announced his landing gear wasn’t opening. He haphazardly touched the engines thrice with the ground,” Khan said.

“All marks are present (on the runway). He was not at the proper height… Control tower informed him you aren’t at the required height, lower your altitude,” he said, adding that the pilot replied: “I will manage.”

May 24 update: Plane hit runway, took off before crashing

According to flight data, Flight PK8303 had glided onto Karachi’s airport runway for about 30 seconds before the pilots pulled the plane back up into the air. It reached an altitude of 3,175 feet, according to FlightRadar24. During the go-around, the pilots announced a second attempt to land.

They were heard calling for help to the airport control tower. “Sir, we have lost engines,” the pilot said to a controller, according to a recording from LiveATC.net (scroll down for audio and footage), before making the distress call: “Mayday. Mayday. Mayday.”

The plane had crashed into a heavily populated residential area close to the airport. Bodies were reportedly strewn on rooftops and the crash site. Some had oxygen masks on, indicating that an emergency had been declared while the plane was in the air, according to rescue agency Edhi, Pakistan’s largest ambulance service.

‘Mayday, mayday’

The final moments of the conversation between one of the pilots and the Air Traffic Controller have been recorded on flight-tracking website liveatc.net.

The pilot of flight PK 8303 is heard saying he has lost both engines, and then “Mayday, Mayday, Mayday,” the international distress message.

The Air Traffic Controller was attempting to guide the airliner to make a landing after it had aborted a previous attempt to land. The pilot said he lost both the engines on the Airbus A320 aircraft.

Here’s a transcript of the conversation:

Pilot: PK 8303 [to] Approach

ATC: Ji Sir

Pilot: We are to be turning left?

ATC: Confirmed

Pilot: We are proceeding direct, we have lost both the engines.

ATC: Confirm you are carrying out a belly landing?

Pilot: (Unclear)

ATC: Runway available to land on 2 5

Pilot: Roger

Pilot: Sir, Mayday, Mayday, Mayday, Pakistan 8303

ATC: Pakistan 8303, Roger Sir. Both runways are available to land.

Audio cuts off

Miracle survivors

Two people, including Lahore-based banker Zafar Mahmood survived the plane crash, family members confirmed. Mahmood is the recently appointed chairman of Punjab Bank. He was seated on the first row of the plane.

“So far I can confirm that two passengers on board the PIA plane have miraculously survived the crash. Their names are Zafar [Mahmood] and Muhammad. Both are in stable condition. Keep praying for others,” tweeted Sindh government spokesperson Murtaza Wahab.

Provincial government spokesman Abdur Rashid Channa said Mahmood was thankful to have survived the ordeal: “Thank you so much. God has been merciful.”

Senator Saeed Ghani, Minister of Education and Labour, also tweeted a picture with a survivor, an engineer identified as Muhammad Zubair.

“After the crash, there was fire everywhere. You could not see anyone,” said Zubair. “I opened my seat belt, and headed towards the light.”

Plane crashes into residential area

Flight PK 8303 crashed into a residential area in Karachi, with witnesses saying the plane first hit a mobile tower before crashing into houses. The wreckage and several houses in the densely populated Jinnah Garden area near Model Colony in Malir area were on fire. Plumes of smoke could be seen billowing in the sky.

Rescuers and police are at the crash site to assist in relief and rescue efforts, which has been hampered by narrow lanes and the presence of a large crowd in the area. They also entered homes to recover bodies from rooftops and the crash site.

What kind of plane is it?

The PIA jet has been identified as a 15-year-old Airbus A320. It flew from Lahore to Karachi as Pakistan resumed domestic flights in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

PIA spokesman Abdullah Khan confirmed the pilot has reported some technical problem.

“He was told from the final approach that both the runways were ready where he can land, but the pilot decided that he wanted to do (a) go-round … It is a very tragic incident,” Khan said.

Pakistan PM order investigation

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has ordered an immediate investigation into the cause of the crash. in the crash.

“Shocked & saddened by the PIA crash. Am in touch with PIA CEO Arshad Malik, who has left for Karachi & with the rescue & relief teams on ground as this is the priority right now. Immediate inquiry will be instituted. Prayers & condolences go to families of the deceased,” Khan tweeted.

Injured transferred to Karachi hospitals

Meanwhile, several people injured in the crash have been transferred to hopsitals in Karachi. According to reports, 15 people have been sent to Civil Hospital for treatment, while 17 others were sent to Jinnah Hospital.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates


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