Karachi: Ninety-seven people were killed and two passengers miraculously survived a deadly crash after a Pakistan International Airlines plane with 99 travellers on board plunged into a densely populated residential area near the Jinnah International Airport here, officials said on Saturday.
Flight PK-8303 from Lahore crashed at the Jinnah Garden area near Model Colony in Malir on Friday afternoon, minutes before its landing in Karachi, they said. Eleven people on the ground were injured.
Sindh health officials have said that 97 people have been confirmed dead, while two survived the crash, Dawn News reported on Saturday.
Both the survivors are in stable condition and 19 victims have been identified, the report said. The Airbus A320 aircraft of the national carrier had 91 passengers and a crew of eight.
A third person, who had earlier been identified as a survivor from the plane, was later confirmed to be a resident of the area where the plane crashed. She was among the 11 persons, who were injured when the plane crashed into the residential area, damaging several houses, the report added.
Meeran Yousuf, the media coordinator for the Sindh health minister, said that the majority of the injured were women, as it was time for Friday prayers when the crash occurred. She added that all the injured residents were in stable condition.
Sindh Health Minister Azra Pechuho said there are two survivors, including President of the Bank of Punjab Zafar Masood. He called up his mother to inform her of his well-being.
Faisal Edhi of the Edhi Welfare Trust said that around 25 to 30 residents whose houses were damaged by the plane have also been taken to the hospital, mostly with burn wounds.
The aircraft wings during the crash landing hit the houses in the residential colony before crashing down.
"At least 25 houses have been damaged in this incident, Edhi said.
According to a PIA official, the captain informed the air traffic control that he was having problems with the landing gear before the aircraft disappeared from the radar.
The cause of the crash is yet to be confirmed. PIA chief executive Air Vice Marshal Arshad Malik said the pilot had told traffic control that the plane was experiencing "technical difficulties".
The plane came for landing but just before that the pilot said he was going for a go-around. While coming for a second landing, it developed some problems and crashed.
The real cause of the mishap will be known after inquiry, which will be free and fair and it will be provided to the media, he said. Malik said that the entire operation will take two to three days to complete.
Pakistan has set up a four-member board of inquiry to know the cause of the crash. The board has been asked to complete the probe within the shortest possible time, according to an official notification by the Aviation Division of the government.
The flight was coming from Lahore to Karachi after the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) allowed limited resumption of domestic flights last Saturday following weeks of lockdown due to the travel restrictions linked to the COVID-19 outbreak.
This is the first major aircraft crash in Pakistan after December 7, 2016 when a PIA ATR-42 aircraft from Chitral to Islamabad crashed midway. The crash claimed the lives of all 48 passengers and the crew.
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Around June 1, a five-minute video of an interview of a woman recorded in the style of an exposé went viral. The woman appears to be an office-bearer and is sitting behind a desk. She says, “These people are terrorists and we are giving them VIP treatment… we are exhausting our resources on them, getting our doctors ill for them…we are using 100 test kits per day on them, if they didn’t exist we wouldn’t need the kits… these people should be hit and kept in solitary confinement… Can’t Yogi ji give an order that state’s resources won’t be used on them.. we are sacrificing Rs 100 crores of the nation for these 20 crores.” The population of Muslims in India is approximately 20 crores.
A mic with the logo of ‘News इंडिया 1’ can be seen in the video. The interviewers behind the camera are trying to gain an official statement from the woman for their news bulletin. As per social media claims, the woman being interviewed is Aarti Lalchandani, the principal of GVSM Medical College, Kanpur.
The social media claims are true. The person in the video is indeed Aarti Lalchandani, the principal of GVSM Medical College in Kanpur. On June 1, several media outlets published a report about the viral video including The Hindu and The Indian Express.
According to The Hindu, “Lalchandani first said that the video was “morphed” and that she did not refer to any community or target Muslims. But in the same breath, she also admitted that she made the comments as a vent during the initial days of the COVID-19 crisis in Kanpur.”
She told both the publications that the local journalist who leaked the video tried to blackmail her and extort administrative favors. However, speaking with Alt News, Lalchandani said that she wasn’t aware of the clip’s existence until it became viral on social media. It is unclear how she could possibly be blackmailed over something that wasn’t in her notice. Moreover, she was unable to provide any evidence of the same.
Omar Rashid, the journalist who wrote the report for The Hindu, tweeted that Lalchandani told the outlet that she had made the comments in anger.
The principal of Kanpur Medical College Arati Lalchandani allegedly calls Tablighi Jamaat members terrorists, says they should be sent to dungeons, jungles & solitary confinement rather than being treated in isolation wards. She told @the_hindu that she made the comment in anger pic.twitter.com/vfM2tVnTaV— Omar Rashid (@omar7rashid) May 31, 2020
In her statement that was sent over WhatsApp, Lalchandani wrote, “THESE ARE NOT MY STATEMENTS GIVEN TO MEDIA but a malicious sting and do not reflect my inner feelings.” She added, “Even a mother in her anger says go to hell to her own children. And then hugs them the next moment. My actions have always spoken louder than words and will continue to do so. I shall continue serving you all and you can always send to me anyone in need. I work 24 hours for you.”
It is pertinent to note that Lalchandani did not apologize for the racist comments.
Therefore the social media claim associated with the video is true. Aarti Lalchandani, the principal of GVSM Medical College in Kanpur, indeed made derogatory remarks against Tablighi Jamaat members and the Muslim community. She said the country should put them behind bars instead of spending money and resources for their treatment.
Here's her Facebook post: