‘There was fire everywhere,’ says the man who survived Pakistan plane crash

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‘There was fire everywhere,’ says the man who survived Pakistan plane crash


Karachi: At least two passengers on the Airbus SE A320 jet survived the impact, Sindh government spokesman Murtaza Wahab said in a tweet. One of them was Zafar Masud, president of the Bank of Punjab, he said.

Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah inquired after the health of banker Zafar Mahmood, who miraculously survived, a provincial government spokesman Abdur Rashid Channa said in a statement.

When the chief minister said “Murad is here”, the survivor replied “Thank you so much. God has been merciful”, the statement said.

“There was fire everywhere, and everyone was screaming after theplane crash. I opened my seatbelt, and headed towards the light,” Muhammad Zubair, another survivor, who was sitting in the eighth row, said on a local television broadcast.

Pakistan’s civil aviation authority said there had been 91 passengers and eight crew on board the Airbus A320.

Casualties included people on the ground when the plane went down after reporting engine trouble.

Flight PK 8303 from Lahore was carrying 91 passengers and eight crew, the Civil Aviation Authority said in an updated tally. Television footage showed cars and homes on fire in the neighborhood near the airport in the nation’s commercial hub. The A320 narrow-body jet first entered service in 2004, and was operated by PIA since 2014, Airbus said.

The pilots inFriday’s crashreported losing power from both engines, according to a recording from LiveATC.net, which collects audio feeds from air-traffic controllers.

“Sir, we have lost engines,” the pilot said to a controller, according to the LiveATC recording.

‘Mayday. Mayday’

About 30 seconds later, the pilot again radioed a distress call: “Mayday. Mayday. Mayday.”

It’s the second plane crash for the state-owned carrier in less than four years. Pakistan International’s chairman resigned in late 2016, less than a week after the crash of an ATR 42 turboprop killed 47 people.

“Although the public sector national carrier’s administration has been mismanaged for decades, this never reflected the engineering competence,” said Burzine Waghmar, a member of the Centre for the Study of Pakistan at SOAS University of London. “PIA’s maintenance and engineering is second to none.”

The airline, founded in 1946, suffered as many as 51 safety-related incidents before Friday’s crash, according to data from Aviation Safety Network.

The crashed A320 joined the airline six years ago and had a major check in March, according to a statement by the local Civil Aviation Authority. It carried out eight flights since March 21 after the nation restarted flights after easing its coronavirus related lockdown.

The jet was previously flown by China Eastern Airlines from 2004 until 2014, the Associated Press reported, citing ownership records. It was then added to PIA’s fleet under a lease from GE Capital Aviation Services, the AP said.

Pandemic Complications

Airbus said it was providing technical assistance to France’s Bureau d’Enquêtes et d’Analyses and to Pakistani authorities in charge of the investigation. The company is working on getting a team to the crash site, according to a person familiar with the matter.

The coronavirus pandemic could complicate things as investigators traveling to the site would have to comply with local quarantine regulations unless they receive special exemptions. Pakistan will also form a four-member body to investigate, and expects to submit an initial statement within a month, its civil aviation authority said.

Engine manufacturer CFM International and the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board are monitoring the situation, representatives for both said. CFM is a joint venture of General Electric Co. and Safran SA.

The A320’s pilot had reported a “technical fault” before deciding to go around instead of landing, the carrier’s chief Malik said

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