KARACHI (REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE) - The flight data recorder from the Pakistani airliner that crashed into a residential neighbourhood of Karachi has been found, as the death toll rose to 97.
There were two survivors from the aircraft, while no fatalities were reported in the densely populated area where the aircraft crash-landed on Friday (May 22).
Most of the bodies have not been identified as they are badly charred from the fire that consumed the plane.
Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) flight PK 8303, an Airbus A320, was flying from Lahore to Karachi with 99 people on board when it went down in the mid- afternoon while trying a second landing attempt.
PIA spokesman Abdullah Khan said on Saturday the black box was found late on Friday, adding that it included both the flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder.
One of the two survivors described jumping from the burning wreckage of the aircraft after it hurtled into the neighbourhood.
“After it hit and I regained conciousness, I saw fire everywhere and no one was visible,” Mr Mohammad Zubair said from his hospital bed in a video clip on social media.
“There were cries of children, adults and the elderly. The cries were everywhere and everybody was trying to survive. I undid my seat belt and I saw some light and tried to walk towards it. Then I jumped out.”
Mr Zubair, 24, suffered burns but was in a stable condition, said a health ministry official.
PIA named the other survivor as Mr Zafar Masud, president of the Bank of Punjab.
The airline’s chief executive Arshad Malik said on Friday the last message received from the pilot indicated there was a technical problem.
A senior civil aviation official said it appeared that the plane had been unable to lower its landing gear for the first approach.
Seconds before the crash, the pilot told air traffic controllers he had lost power from both engines, based on a recording posted on liveatc.net, a respected aviation monitoring website.
The pilot was an “A320 pilot with extensive flight experience”, according to the Ministry of Aviation.
Airbus said the jet first flew in 2004 and was fitted with engines built by CFM International.
Prime Minister Imran Khan announced soon after the crash that there would be an inquiry and a four-member team was set up on Friday night, according to a notification from the government’s aviation division, seen by Reuters.
The team includes three members of the Aircraft Accident and Investigation Board and one from the Pakistan Air Force’s safety board. The team will issue a preliminary statement within a month.
Army and civil administration personnel were clearing through the debris in the neighbourhood on Saturday.
“Rescue Op in progress... 25 affected houses cleared, their residents accommodated at various places with assistance of Civil Administration,” the army said on Twitter.
Singapore’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement yesterday: “We are deeply saddened by the tragic loss of lives in the crash of Pakistan International Airlines flight PK 8303.”
Pakistan last week resumed domestic flights it had suspended due to the Covid-19 pandemic, with many people travelling for the Aidilfitri holiday.
The ill-fated flight was filled with military officers, executives and bankers, as families looked forward to reuniting after two months in lockdown.