Karachi residents relate horror of jet crashing into their homes

A resident of Karachi’s Model Colony looks upon his damaged home on May 23, 2020, a day after a Pakistan International Airlines’ aircraft crashed into a residential neighbourhood near Karachi airport. (AN photo by S.A. Babar)
Short Url
Updated 02 June 2020

Karachi residents relate horror of jet crashing into their homes

  • Say ‘wise’ pilot killed in crash had maneuvered landing to avoid homes
  • No casualties reported from colony as traumatized locals frightened for their safety

KARACHI: Noman Shamsi was sitting in his living room after Friday prayers and his wife was whipping up Iftar for the family when a huge boom shook their home in Karachi’s Model Colony and packed it with black smoke.
“It was doomsday,” Shamsi told Arab News on Saturday, a day after a Pakistan International Airlines jet plunged into his neighborhood roughly a hundred feet away from the port city’s Jinnah International Airport, killing 97 people on board. Two survivors were pulled alive from the wreckage.
“Our house shook so [hard] for a moment, we thought it was a massive earthquake but suddenly it filled with black smoke and debris flew our way,” Shamsi said.
“Our gate was hit in a way we couldn’t open it. There were flames and we couldn’t get to the roof. We were suffocating inside our home,” he said. 
Finally, the family managed to escape.




Pakistan army personnel remove debris from a residential street where a Pakistan’s International Airlines’ jet crashed on Friday. May 23, 2020 (AN Photo by S.A. Babar)

Out on the street, the devastation was unimaginable with one wing wedged into the third floor of his neighbor’s home-- but Shamsi said it could have been worse.
“Thanks to the pilot who kept the plane in the center of the street. He saved many lives on the ground,” he said.
No casualties have been reported where the plane crashed into the congested street of homes, and four locals have been injured according to the provincial health ministry-- none of them critically.
“He [pilot] was a wise man. May God accept his martyrdom,” he said. “His timely decision saved lives.”




A resident, Syed Manzar Shah, of Karachi’s Model Colony stands amid the devastation following Friday's jet crash. May 23, 2020  (AN Photo by S.A. Babar)

Syed Manzar Shah, another neighborhood local told Arab News that despite getting away with their lives, residents of the ill-fated street where the plane crashed had been traumatized by Friday’s events. Especially the children, he said, who would watch the planes fly closely overhead on their way to and from the runways.
Abdul Majeed, another Model Colony homeowner, said his children had moved to relatives’ homes and didn’t want to come back.
“The planes were routine for us... since the aircraft would fly close to our homes,” Majeed said. “But now, when we see a plane landing, we think it could just fall on us.”
Speaking at a media briefing in Karachi, aviation minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan said high-rise buildings-- a few stories tall-- were prohibited near airports and that at least 1500 acres of land along Karachi airport had been illegally grabbed. The minister didn’t offer further details




A child’s doll lies among the debris at Karachi’s Model Colony, which was the site of an Airbus A320 crash on Friday. May 23, 2020  (AN Photo by S.A. Babar)

Model colony resident Majeed agreed, and alleged people had constructed homes taller than legally allowed. Arab News could not independently verify these claims. 
“They should move the runway away or relocate this neighborhood,” Majeed said. 
“The accident which luckily claimed no lives [of locals] is still a reminder that this is a dangerous area for us to live in.”


Pakistani aviation authority says PIA pilot ignored air traffic control

Updated 03 June 2020

Pakistani aviation authority says PIA pilot ignored air traffic control

  • PK 8303 crashed on May 22 while trying to land after the pilots reported the loss of both engines
  • The plane’s cockpit voice recorder and flight data box are being decoded in France

KARACHI: Pakistani aviation authorities have told Pakistan International Airlines that the pilot of a passenger plane that crashed into a residential district of Karachi last month had ignored air traffic control’s instructions for landing, a PIA spokesman said on Wednesday.
The PIA Airbus A320 crashed on May 22 while trying to land after the pilots reported the loss of both engines. Ninety seven people on board were killed and two survived. At least one person was reported to have died on the ground.
Initial reports suggested the plane scraped its engines along the runway on a first attempt to land following what appeared to be an unstable approach, arriving steep and fast.
In a letter sent to PIA, the Civil Aviation Authority said an approach controller twice told the pilot to discontinue its approach as he came into land but he did not comply.
As it neared landing, the plane’s ground speed was above the runway threshold, the letter quoted the controller as saying.
It lifted up from the runway surface and crashed over Model Colony while attempting a second approach, the letter said.
“Yes, we have received the letter, they are documenting it,” Abdullah Hafeez Khan, PIA’s general manager for corporate communications told Reuters.
He declined to comment on the assertions made in the letter.
The flight had been observed as being high for approach at as it passed Makli, about 100 km east of Karachi, but the pilot said he was comfortable for the descent, the letter said. He was also cautioned a second time.
The plane’s cockpit voice recorder and flight data box are being decoded in France by French air accident agency BEA.
Pakistan’s Aviation Minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan has said that an initial report on the crash will be presented to parliament on June 22.
Aviation safety experts say air crashes typically have multiple causes and it is too early to determine the reasons behind the air disaster, which is Pakistan’s worst since 2012.