PIA flight PK8303 was flying from Lahore to Karachi and had 99 passengers — along with eight members of the crew — on board, the report detailed. The airplane crashed in a densely-populated residential area near Karachi airport, reportedly damaging several houses.
The Airbus A320 aircraft’s crash is suspected to have come as a result of mechanical issues. Prior to the crash, the pilots attempted to land at the city’s Jinnah International Airport, and the runways were cleared for this purpose.
The pilots, however, decided not to land — and the airplane circled the airport. Minutes later, however, the captain told the air traffic control center that he had lost both the engines and issued a mayday call.
According to The Express Tribune, one of Pakistan’s national newspapers, two passengers have reportedly survived the crash. Bodies recovered from the site have been shifted to two different Karachi hospitals.
The Pakistani army, private rescue teams, firefighters, and local residents rushed to the site of the crash to help the victims and to retrieve bodies.
— The Express Tribune (@etribune) May 22, 2020
One of the survivors, Muhammad Zubair, spoke to local media outlets and described the ordeal, saying that the airplane was flying smoothly and that no one had suspected any faults or issues. Zubair, who is reportedly in a stable condition, said that when the aircraft started going down, the situation inside the plane turned chaotic, per the BBC.
“I could hear screams from all directions. Kids and adults. All I could see was fire. I couldn’t see any people – just hear[d] their screams.”
The survivor explained that he unfastened his seatbelt and jumped out of the aircraft when he saw some light. Another survivor has been identified as Zafar Masud. Both passengers were seated at the front of the aircraft.
The tragic incident happened only a few days after the Pakistani government relaxed the COVID-19 lockdown in the country and allowed local flights to resume services. Many of those on board were going to Karachi to celebrate the Muslim festival of Eid, hoping to join with their families to mark the end of Ramadan.
Following the crash, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan took to his Twitter account and expressed his grief over the incident, promising immediate inquiry into the matter.
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.
— Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) May 22, 2020
Several other heads of the states also expressed their condolences with the victims and showed solidarity. These included the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, his Candian counterpart Justin Trudeau, and the Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani.
The news from Pakistan this morning is devastating. To the families and friends of those who lost their lives in the crash of PK 8303, and to everyone affected by this terrible tragedy, our hearts go out to you. Canadians are keeping you in our thoughts today.
— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) May 22, 2020