KARACHI: At least four people were killed when a training aircraft of the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) crashed near an inter-city bus terminal in Baldia Town on Tuesday afternoon. Two of the victims were the pilots manning the aircraft.
At around 12:05pm, the PAF jet crashed near a bus terminal in Yousuf Goth, Baldia Town. Soon after the incident, the area was surrounded by law enforcement personnel as well as officials and personnel of the PAF.
According to the PAF spokesperson, the fighter aircraft was on a routine operational training mission when it crashed due to technical faults. "Both the pilots, Wing Commander Khurram Sammad and Squadron Leader Umair Elahi, embraced shahadat in the crash," he told The Express Tribune. The spokesperson said that PAF immediately dispatched fire tenders and ambulances for the rescue and relief operations.
As per rules, the PAF will provide compensation for the loss of life and property and will cover medical expenses of the injured. An inquiry board has been constituted by the Air Force Headquarters to determine the cause of accident, the spokesperson added.
According to police officials, two civilians, identified as Ali Akbar and Sajid Riyasat, were killed in the incident while three others were rushed to the hospital in an injured condition. The injured were released from the hospital a few hours later. The bodies were shifted to Civil Hospital, Karachi, for autopsies. "The bodies were in parts and had sustained severe burns," said the medico-legal officer, Nisar Shah.
Windowpanes of several nearby houses were shattered as a result of the explosion that occurred when the plane crashed into the ground. A large number of people gathered at the site, curious to know the source of the rising smoke. The on-lookers made the rescue operation all the more difficult and within a few minutes, the fire had spread to the bus terminal. Fire-tenders managed, however, to control the fire before it caused a lot of damage. On the other hand, electricity supply to the area was compromised as the plane had crashed through electric poles.
According to witnesses, a bus was completely destroyed while four other vehicles were partially damaged. "The aircraft was flying laterally at a low altitude before it crashed to a stop," said a witness, Ali Ahmed, who works at the bus terminal. "It bounced off the roofs of several buses and broke through electricity poles before crashing to a stop." He added that the plane's engine had been on fire before it crashed.
Police and PAF personnel cordoned off the crash site to collect evidence. PAF engineers also reached the site and were trying to ascertain the actual cause of the crash.
This was not the first incident of a plane crash in the city. Two planes had been completely destroyed after they crashed in Karachi in November 2010.
A small plane, belonging to Jahangir Siddiqui Air, took off from Jinnah International Airport and crashed near Pehlwan Goth shortly after takeoff, killing 21 people including both the pilots.
A few days later, a Russian-made cargo plane, on its way to Sudan, crashed in a naval housing colony near Dalmia approximately two minutes after it took off.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 4th, 2014.
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