One of only two people to survive the devastating plane crash in Pakistan has described the horror when the plane crashed after the second attempt to land.
Engineer Muhammad Zubair told Geo News that all he could hear was “screaming from all sides” as the plane burst into “smoke and fire.”
Pakistan International Airlines’ Airbus jet had 99 passengers on board when it crashed in a busy residential area of Karachi city on Friday afternoon after attempting to land twice at the airport.
When he gave his interview from his hospital bed, Mohammed said, “All I could see was smoke and fire.
“I heard screams from all directions. Children and adults. All I could see was fire. I couldn’t see people – just hear their screams.
“I opened my seat belt and saw some light. I went to the light. I had to jump down about ten feet to get to safety. ‘
At least 97 people were confirmed to have died, health authorities said, but it is not known whether this included pedestrians who were involved in the disaster and were on the ground.
Zubair said from his bed in the civilian hospital of Karachi that about 10 minutes after a failed first landing attempt, the pilot announced to passengers that he would make a second attempt.
The plane then crashed as it approached the runway.
Smoke came from the scene where flight PK 8303 landed at about 2:45 PM local time. Twisted hull lay in the rubble of multi-story buildings as ambulances stormed through chaotic crowds.
Zafar Masood, president of the Bank of Punjab, was the other person to survive, Sindh provincial government spokesman said. The bank said he had suffered fractures, but was “aware and responsive.”
The crash happened on the eve of the Muslim Eid festival.
Shakeel Ahmed, an eyewitness, described what he saw, said, “The plane first hit a mobile tower and crashed over houses.”
The Airbus A320 flew from the eastern city of Lahore to Karachi in the south with 91 passengers and eight crew, civil aviation authorities said, just as Pakistan resumed domestic flights in the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic.
In the moments before the plane crashed, the pilot told air traffic controllers that he had lost power from both engines, according to a recording on liveatc.net, a respected aviation monitoring website.
“We are returning, sir, we have lost engines,” heard a man in a recording released by the website.
The air traffic controller cleared the runways of the airport, but moments later the man shouted, “Mayday! Mayday! Mayday! “.
There was no further communication from the aircraft, according to the tape, yet to be verified.
“The last thing we heard from the pilot was that he had a technical problem … It’s a very tragic incident,” said state company spokesman Abdullah H. Khan.
Another senior civil aviation official said that it appeared that due to a technical malfunction, the aircraft was unable to lower its chassis for the first approach, but it was too early to determine the cause.
Aviation safety experts say that plane accidents usually have multiple causes and it is too early to understand them within the first hours or days.