Flight PK-756: ‘Countdown to your final minutes’

Passengers on board the aircraft relive the horror of the June 24 attack.

Umer Farooq June 28, 2014


“You can only imagine your death and a countdown to your final minutes,” said *Aslam Khan, one of the passengers on PK-756, recalling the moment he was told that the airplane was under attack minutes before it landed at Bacha Khan International Airport on June 24.

“I heard that the engine had failed and the plane was going to crash. People were reciting the Kalma-e-Shahadat loudly and two minutes later someone shouted, ‘A woman has been injured!’” Khan says a rumour spread that the plane’s empennage (tail) was on fire and passengers unfastened their seat belts, rushing towards the front of the plane.

Cabin crew attempted to avoid a stampede, telling passengers to remain seated, keep their heads down and their seat belts fastened. Khan told The Express Tribune that no one heeded the warning. Another passenger shouted that he saw lightning and heard three blasts. “I was confused as other passengers were saying the engine had failed,” said *Naeem Raza, who added that it took a few minutes to land the plane after this burst of panic.

On June 24,  gunmen shot at Pakistan International Airlines flight PK-756 as it was landing at the Bacha Khan International Airport, killing a woman and injuring two others, including a crew member.

The plane was carrying 178 passengers and crew members, and was travelling from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. According to the initial report on the incident, the PIA plane was hit 10 times, however, the pilot managed to land the aircraft safely three minutes after the attack.

Ijaz Afridi, a flight steward, was seated on a jumpseat when he was hit by a bullet. “It felt like someone slapped me,” he said. “My friend told me I was bleeding and before I could say anything, two more bullets hit my body. My friend tried to hold me but I could not stand as a bullet hit my leg.”

As the plane landed, crew members appealed to passengers to allow the injured to leave the plane first. The female passenger, Maqnoon Begum, was rushed away in an ambulance. Ijaz is currently receiving treatment at the Combined Military Hospital (CMH) in Peshawar. His brother Ayaz said Pakistan International Airlines officials had made efforts to care for his brother, but the federal and provincial government had yet to inquire after his health.

*The names of passengers have been changed upon request.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 28th, 2014.


Sad! | 7 years ago | Reply

U.S. Military plane use to crash if & when the cargo of trucks or tanks break loose and slide toward the tail during takeof. Stampede toward the exit or away from fire can crush n kill easily, the slow or fallen passengers. It's common sense & proven by history.

That's True! | 7 years ago | Reply

@Ali: He is right. A Saudi plane was stalled and crash in 70's, when due to a stove fire at front all passengers massed in the tail pulling the plane down back.

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