Survivor of Pakistan Airline Crash Recalls Last Moments of Doomed Flight: 'I Heard People Crying, Children Crying'

A survivor of the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) flight that crashed into a residential area of Karachi on Friday, killing 97 people, has spoken of his horrifying ordeal, describing the moments leading up to and after the accident.

Mechanical engineer Mohammad Zubair is one of just two surviving passengers from the accident, the other being bank executive, Zafar Masood. All of the deceased are thought to be passengers and crew members.

Zubair told the Associated Press from his hospital bed that problems began when the Airbus A320, which had taken off from the eastern Pakistani city of Lahore, began its descent into the country's largest city shortly before 3 p.m. local time.

Zubair said that the pilot tried to land the plane three times unsuccessfully, with the aircraft almost touching down on one attempt before ascending again.

"Suddenly the plane jerked violently, once and then again," Zubair told AP over the phone.

The pilot told passengers over the intercom that the aircraft was experiencing engine difficulties and that the landing could be "troublesome." This is Zubair's last memory before he woke up to a scene of devastation, he said.

"I saw so much smoke and fire. I heard people crying, children crying," Zubair said, describing how he managed to crawl out of the smoke and rubble before being whisked into an ambulance by emergency responders. "I'm very thankful to Allah for granting me a second life. It is a miracle."

The Pakistan International Airlines flight PK8303 crashed into a residential area, known as Model Colony, near Jinnah International Airport at 2:39 p.m. local time, destroying or damaging 18 homes in the process, according to Abdullah Hafiz Khan, a spokesperson for the airline.

It appears that no one on the ground at the time was killed in the immediate crash, although eight people were injured, with three remaining ins hospital, local health authorities said.

Pakistan plane crash
Security personnel search for victims in the wreckage of a Pakistan International Airlines aircraft after it crashed in a residential area in Karachi on May 22, 2020. ASIF HASSAN/AFP via Getty Images

However, all but two of the 91 passengers and eight crew members aboard the plane died in the crash. Meeran Yousaf, a spokesperson for the provincial health department, said that most of the bodies were badly burned and only 21 had been identified so far.

At the time of the crash, many people in the area were gathered in nearby mosques for Friday prayers, perhaps explaining the lack of fatalities on the ground.

"The men were praying at the nearby mosque, Masjid-e-Bilal, which is 100 meters from where the plane crashed," local resident Amir Chaudhry told AP.

According to the airline, the aircraft was considered to be in good working order, with PIA chairman noting that an independent inquiry would be held. Authorities have already recovered the black box of the aircraft.

The manufacturer of the plane, Airbus, said that it would provide technical assistance to investigators.

"We at Airbus are deeply saddened by the tragic news of flight #PK8303," Executive Director Guillaume Faury tweeted. "In aviation, we all work hard to prevent this. Airbus will provide full assistance to the investigating authorities."