Source: China State Council Information Office
The death toll of a passenger plane crash in Pakistan’s southern port city of Karachi has soared to 80, while seven others including the people aboard and those on the ground were injured, police said.
Rescue teams have shifted 48 bodies to the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Center, and 32 others to the Civil Hospital Karachi, police sources in Karachi told Xinhua on condition of anonymity, adding that most of the bodies have been burnt beyond recognition and will be identified by DNA testing.
The health department of Sindh province, of which Karachi is the provincial capital, said in a statement that five bodies of the ill-fated plane victims have already been identified.
Meeran Yousuf, media representative to the health minister of Sindh, retracted an earlier statement made by the health minister of three survivors in the plane crash, by saying that only two people survived the crash. The third one was an injured person on the ground who was misunderstood as a crash survivor.
There is no official word on the exact cause of the crash yet, and the country’s Aviation Minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan formed a committee to probe into the incident and identify the elements behind the crash.
The crashed plane belonged to the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) and according to Director Management of Operations PIA Jawad Haider, the plane was not fully loaded due to COVID-19 safety measures.
The PIA flight PK-8303 took off from the Allama Iqbal International Airport in the eastern city of Lahore at 1:08 p.m. local time on Friday and crashed at 2:45 p.m. local time, PIA spokesperson Abdullah Hafeez said.
Briefing Xinhua about the cause of the crash, Ismail Khoso, spokesman of the country’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) said the plane, Airbus A320, with some 100 people on board, crashed shortly before landing at the Karachi airport on Friday afternoon.
He also confirmed that the pilot contacted the control tower, intimating that the plane was meeting some technical fault, and he was told that two runways were vacant for landing and he may use any as per convenience.
“Instead of landing, the pilot preferred to take another round in the air, and shortly after, he lost contact with the control, and the plane was later found crashed in a residential area,” said the spokesman.
Meanwhile, Chief Executive Officer of the PIA, Arshad Malik, told a media briefing on Friday night that the plane was fully operational and did not have any technical fault when it took off from Lahore airport, adding the problem only erupted in the plane when it was about to land at the airport during its first round.
He also said the pilots were also qualified and had a good flight experience, and a further investigation would determine the cause of the crash.
The airline’s chief said no loss of life was reported at the ground as the plane landed mainly at a street, and no major damage was done to the houses, contradicting the statements by eyewitness and CAA officials that several houses were damaged in the crash.
Rescue teams from non-government organizations, military and government took part in the operation to shift the bodies and injured people to the hospitals, police sources said, adding that the rescue operation still continued in the area to recover the remaining bodies or possible survivors.