The flight data recorder from the Pakistani airliner that crashed into a residential neighbourhood of Karachi has been found, an official said yesterday as the death toll was confirmed at 97.
There were two survivors from onboard the aircraft, while no fatalities were reported in the densely populated area of the city where the aircraft crashed on Friday.
They are the chief executive of the Bank of Punjab and a young engineer.
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 mid-afternoon while trying a second landing attempt.
The aircraft 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.
“The black box had been found late yesterday (Friday), we are handing it over to the inquiry board,” PIA spokesman Abdullah Khan said.
He said both the flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder were found.
The airline’s chief executive, Arshad Malik, said on Friday that the last message received from the pilot indicated there was a technical problem.
Another senior civil aviation official told Reuters that it appeared the plane had been unable to lower its landing gear for the first approach.
Aviation safety experts say that air crashes typically have multiple causes.
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.
Airbus said that the jet first flew in 2004 and was fitted with engines built by CFM International, co-owned by General Electric and France’s Safran.
Prime Minister Imran Khan announced soon after the crash that there would be an inquiry, and a four-member team was constituted on Friday night, according to a notification from the government’s aviation division, seen by Reuters.
The team comprises 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, the notification says.
A statement from the provincial health minister’s office yesterday put the death toll at 97, with no confirmed deaths on the ground.
Army and civil administration personnel were clearing through the debris in the Karachi neighbourhood yesterday and assisting residents whose homes had been damaged.
“Rescue Op in progress ... 25 affected houses cleared, their residents accommodated at various places with assistance of civil administration,” the military’s Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said, referring to 25 houses in Model Colony, the site of the crash.
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: 20 women, 43 men, and three children.
The provincial health department said 50 bodies at the hospital have not been identified.
The health department further said that the remaining 31 bodies had been moved to Civil Hospital: six women and 25 men.
It said 28 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.
The 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 that till now 12 bodies have been handed to the deceased’s victims after being identified.
Sindh Governor Imran Ismail and federal Aviation Minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan spoke to media yesterday regarding the crash.
The governor 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 said that those who cannot be accommodated would be shifted to Qasar-e-Naz guesthouse.
“The examination revealed damage of low magnitude which is nothing short of a miracle,” he said.
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