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Sunday, May 24, 2020, 18:42
97 killed as in Pakistani airliner crash, black box found
By Reuters
Sunday, May 24, 2020, 18:42 By Reuters

Volunteers cover the dead body of a plane crash victim at the site of the crash in Karachi, Pakistan, May 22, 2020. An aviation official says a passenger plane belonging to state-run Pakistan International Airlines carrying 99 passengers and crew crashed near Karachi's airport. (FAREED KHAN / AP)

KARACHI, Pakistan — The flight data recorder from the Pakistani airliner that crashed into a residential neighbourhood of Karachi has been found, an official said on Saturday, as the death toll rose to 97.

Two passengers survived, including Zafar Masood, president of the Bank of Punjab, a Sindh provincial government spokesman said

There were two survivors from onboard the aircraft, while no fatalities were reported in the densely populated area of the city where the aircraft crash-landed on Friday.

Pakistan International Airlines flight PK 8303, an Airbus A320, was flying from Lahore to Karachi with 99 people on board when it went down in mid-afternoon while trying a second landing attempt.

“The black box had been found late yesterday, we are handing it over to the inquiry board,” PIA spokesman Abdullah Khan said. He said that included both the flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder.

One of the survivors was Zafar Masood, president of the Bank of Punjab, a Sindh provincial government spokesman said. The bank said he had suffered fractures but was "conscious and responding well".

The other survivor, engineer Muhammad Zubair, told Geo News the pilot came down for one landing, briefly touched down, then took off again.

After around 10 more minutes of flying, the pilot announced to passengers he was going to make a second attempt, then crashed as he approached the runway, Zubair said from his bed in Civil Hospital Karachi.

Volunteers and soldiers look for survivors of a plane crash in a residential area of Karachi, Pakistan, May 22, 2020. (FAREED KHAN / AP)

“All I could see around was smoke and fire,” he added. “I could hear screams from all directions. Kids and adults. All I could see was fire. I couldn’t see any people – just hear their screams.

“I opened my seat belt and saw some light – I went towards the light. I had to jump down about 10 feet to get to safety.”

‘WE HAVE LOST ENGINES’

Smoke billowed from the scene where flight PK 8303 came down at about 2:45 pm (0945 GMT). Twisted fuselage lay in the rubble of multi-storey buildings as ambulances rushed through chaotic crowds.

The crash happened on the eve of the Muslim Eid festival, when Pakistanis travel to visit relatives.

“The aeroplane first hit a mobile tower and crashed over houses,” witness Shakeel Ahmed said near the site, a few kilometres short of the airport.

Rescue work is in progress at the site of a plane crash in Karachi, Pakistan, May 22, 2020. (FAREED KHAN / AP)

Seconds before the crash, the pilot told air traffic controllers he had lost power from both engines, according to a recording posted on liveatc.net, a respected aviation monitoring website.

“We are returning back, sir, we have lost engines,” a man was heard saying in a recording released by the website. The controller freed up both the airport’s runways but moments later the man called, “Mayday! Mayday! Mayday!”.

‘IMMEDIATE INQUIRY’

There was no further communication from the plane, according to the tape, which could not immediately be authenticated.

ALSO READ: Pakistan plane carrying 99 crashes in Karachi, many feared dead

"The last we heard from the pilot was that he has some technical problem ... It is a very tragic incident," Malik said in a recorded video statement.

Another senior civil aviation official told Reuters it appeared the plane had been unable to lower its undercarriage for the first approach due to a technical fault, but it was too early to determine the cause.

Aviation safety experts say air crashes typically have multiple causes, and that it is too early to understand them within the first hours or days.

READ MORE: Pakistani police hunt for killer of 2 teenage girls seen in video

Prime Minister Imran Khan tweeted: “Shocked & saddened by the PIA crash ... Immediate inquiry will be instituted. Prayers & condolences go to families of the deceased.”

Airbus said the jet first flew in 2004 and was fitted with engines built by CFM International, co-owned by General Electric and France’s Safran.

With Xinhua inputs

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