It was all ‘fire and smoke’: eyewitnesses recount Pakistan plane crash

Its wings sliced through rooftops, sending flames, plumes of dark smoke into air before Pakistan International Airlines plane with 99 people on board came crashing down, according to some eyewitnesses

It was all ‘fire and smoke’: eyewitnesses recount Pakistan plane crash
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PTI

Its wings sliced through rooftops, sending flames and plumes of dark smoke into the air before the Pakistan International Airlines plane with 99 people on board came crashing down with a deafening explosion onto a street, according to some eyewitnesses and rescue workers.

Flight PK8303 crashed among houses in the Model Colony residential area on Friday as it approached Karachi airport, killing 97 people, including nine children.

The first Edhi ambulance reached the site of the crash within 10 minutes.

The narrow streets were a maze of parked cars, plane debris and rubble from damaged houses. Only one car could pass through at a time, recounts Faisal Edhi, head of the Edhi Foundation.

Edhi said that since the street was littered with burning wreckage from the aircraft, most of the rescue work happened from the rooftops of adjoining houses.

He said the people who witnessed the crash told him that the plane had hit a water tank before it came crashing down on a 20-foot street which was blocked by the plane debris.

"I was coming out of the mosque and saw the plane flying very low. It crashed against a building, sending flames and smoke in the air. There was a loud explosion and when I reached the site, all I could see was burning wreckage of the aircraft," an eyewitness told BBC Urdu.

"I reached the accident before the police came. I heard a loud explosion and someone screaming for help inside a car. I pulled a man and a woman out of the vehicle. All I could see were rubble, fire, and smoke. Three houses were badly damaged," said Kamran, another eyewitness.

"Almost four houses completely collapsed, there was so much fire and smoke. They are almost my neighbours, I can't tell you what a horrible thing it was," eyewitness Mohammed Uzair Khan told the BBC, adding that he heard a massive sound and went outside his home.

The plane was only just short of the runway perimeter when it struck houses in the Model Colony residential area. TV footage showed rescue crews combing through debris strewn across the streets of the densely populated zone. A number of cars were set on fire.

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan said he was "shocked and saddened" by the crash, tweeting that he was in touch with the state-owned airline's chief executive.

"Shocked & saddened by the PIA crash. Am in touch with PIA CEO Arshad Malik, who has left for Karachi & with the rescue & relief teams on the ground as this is the priority right now. Immediate inquiry will be instituted. Prayers & condolences go to families of the deceased," he said on Friday.

Khan also thanked leaders of other countries for their condolences and sympathies following the crash of the passenger plane in Karachi.

"I thank world leaders for reaching out to condole over the tragic air crash and loss of precious lives. The people of Pakistan value this support and solidarity in our hour of grief," he said in another tweet.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed his condolences over the tragic incident on Friday.

"Deeply saddened by the loss of life due to a plane crash in Pakistan. Our condolences to the families of the deceased, and wishing speedy recovery to those injured," Modi said in a tweet.

Apart from Modi, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres, Tajik President Emomali Rahmon and Nepalese Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli also expressed their condolences over the casualties in the plane crash.

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