KARACHI: The passenger death toll from Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) flight PK-8303, which crashed on Friday afternoon after sending a distress call, has risen to 97, marking it as the third most catastrophic aviation disaster in Pakistan’s history. Only two survived the crash — the chief executive of the Bank of Punjab and a young engineer. The Karachi-bound flight from Lahore had been seconds away from landing at the Karachi airport when it crashed in the residential Jinnah Garden area near Model Colony in Malir, right outside the airport’s boundary wall.
Ninety-nine were aboard the plane when it crashed into a narrow residential street, dealing significant damage to houses in a densely populated area. Thankfully, there were no deaths on the ground.
According to Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), 25 houses in Model Colony, the site of the crash, had been cleared while a search and rescue operation was still underway. The residents had been accommodated at various places with the assistance of the civil administration, it added. The Sindh Health Department confirmed that 66 bodies had been shifted to Jinnah Hospital, of which 20 bodies were of women and 43 of men. Three bodies of children had also been brought to the hospital. The provincial health department said 50 bodies at the hospital were yet to be identified, while 16 bodies had been identified. The health department further said that the remaining 31 bodies had been moved to Civil Hospital, of which six bodies were of women and 25 of men. It said 28 of bodies kept at the hospital have yet to be identified while the process of identification had been completed for three. Separately, rescue officials said some bodies had later been shifted from the Civil and Jinnah Hospitals to an Edhi morgue in Sohrab Goth and the Chhipa morgue at FTC.
“DNA samples were taken from the bodies before being shifted to the morgues,” officials said, adding that 96 bodies were at the morgues, while one had been handed over to the deceased’s relatives. Police said four bodies at the Jinnah Hospital have been released to relatives of deceased. Authorities added that at the moment 40 bodies were in cold storage at an Edhi morgue while 35 were in an Edhi cold storage.
“Three bodies at Edhi morgue have been released after being identified, while six have been released from the Chippa morgue,” authorities said, adding till now 12 bodies have been handed to the deceased’s victims after being identified. ‘Govt to bear cost of repair of damaged houses’
Sindh Imran Ismail and federal Minister for Aviation Ghulam Sarwar Khan spoke to media today regarding the crash. The governor Sindh said that a team to carry out DNA tests had arrived in Karachi from Lahore and is working on the identification process. Ismail said that those whose houses were damaged in the crash have been shifted to the hotel situated within the airport premises. The governor Sindh said that those who cannot be accommodated will be shited to Qasar-e-Naz guest house.
“The examination revealed damage of low magnitude which is nothing short of a miracle,” he said. Meanwhile, federal minister Sarwar Khan said that apart from two survivors, captain and crew members lost lives in the crash among others.
He said that the pilot tried his level best to limit the damage at the time of the unfortunate incident. Sarwar Khan said that the government will bear the cost of repair of the damaged houses, adding that the damage to vehicles will also be ascertained.
He said that the wounded will be given Rs500,000 in compensation, and if there is any recommendation then it can be forwarded to the inquiry committee. “Will try our best that the results (of the investigation) are brought to the fore as soon as possible,” said the aviation minister. He said the inquiry will be made public and it will be ensured that it is transparent. Sarwar Khan said if the inquiry proves dereliction of duty against the PIA CEO and himself, then they will resign and present themselves for accountability. He said that currently the priority is to hand over bodies of the victims to the families.