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Saturday, December 4, 2021

Pakistan-plane crash: At least 97 dead - Two survivors - Two black boxes found

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At least 97 people were killed when an Airbus A320 crashed in the Karachi district of southern Pakistan on Friday, according to a new report released today by local authorities.

The Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) plane crashed into houses as it approached Karachi airport. The latest toll, which puts the death toll at 97 and two survivors, includes all passengers and crew of the plane, according to health officials in Sindh province, whose capital is Karachi. A local hospital also spoke of people being killed on the ground.

The plane was en route from Lahore, in northern Pakistan, and was carrying 98 people, according to the PIA. One of the two survivors of the crash is Zafar Massoud, the president of Punjab Bank, one of Pakistan's most important banks, PIA President Arshad Malik said.

Rescue operations ended at dawn today, according to authorities. Throughout yesterday, rescuers and residents searched the wreckage to find victims of the crash. A French Agency reporter saw charred corpses being loaded into an ambulance.

"There were 91 passengers and 7 crew members" on flight PK8303, "which lost contact with the control tower at 14:37" (12:37 Greek time), PIA spokesman Abdullah Hafiz said.

According to the president and CEO of the company Arshad Malik, the plane, an Airbus A320, was "in the final stage of approach" at Karachi airport when the crash happened.

The plane, which entered service in 2004, has been flying in PIA colors since 2014, according to an Airbus announcement.

"The last time we heard from the pilot, he said he had a technical problem," Malik said in a video posted on Twitter. "We told him (…) that two runways were ready for landing, but he decided to make a turn."

According to Interior Minister Izaz Asmad Shah, the pilot said he "lost an engine" and then sounded a "distress signal".

Stuck at the emergency exit

"I saw a passenger outside the plane. (…) He was alive. He was talking. "He asked me to save him, but his legs were stuck in the emergency exit," said Raja Amzad, an eyewitness who had previously seen a corpse "fall on his car." He added that he did not hear "any screams" from other passengers when the plane caught fire.

Prime Minister Imran Khan expressed "shock and grief" over the disaster and tweeted "his prayers and condolences to the families" of the victims.

According to Foreign Minister Shah Mahmoud Quresi, the plane was carrying "many people returning home for Eid al-Fitr", the celebration of the end of Ramadan, the most important Muslim holiday.

The accident occurred just days after the country allowed the resumption of domestic commercial flights, which had been suspended for more than a month as part of the fight against the spread of the new coronavirus.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said he "prays for those who have lost their lives or been injured and for their families." The United States "is on Pakistan's side at this difficult time," he wrote on Twitter.

The two black boxes were located

The flight data logger and cockpit recorder were located and recovered from the spot where a Pakistan Airlines (PIA) aircraft crashed on Friday.

"The black boxes were found late last night, we are handing them over to the investigation committee," said company spokesman Abdullah Khan.

A PIA Airbus carrying a total of 99 people crashed in a densely populated district of Karachi on Friday afternoon after attempting to land twice at the city's airport.

Source: RES-EAP

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