As we struggle to deal with a global pandemic that has claimed over 1,100 lives in Pakistan alone, an inconsolable tragedy has hit us hard.
A PIA flight from Lahore to Karachi met a tragic fate yesterday. The ill-fated plane’s landing gear reportedly stopped working and when the pilot pulled it up for another round to try and resolve the issue, both its engines failed. The pilot tried to land again — this time in an area near the Jinnah International Airport, but due to the streets being narrow, it hit a mobile tower and crashed.
There were 91 passengers on board and eight crew members. Two passengers miraculously survived while the crew and the rest of the passengers did not make it. All bodies have been recovered and are now being identified through DNA samples, which may take some time. An investigation team has been constituted to probe the accident.
A total of 97 lives have been lost. Both young and old, men and women. Friday’s tragedy of PK8303 crash is something that shook everyone. Messages from around the world poured in — from Canadian PM Justin Trudeau to Indian PM Narendra Modi, world leaders paid their condolences. Our hearts go out to the families, friends and loved ones of those who lost their lives. Eid is usually a happy occasion but with coronavirus and this tragedy, it will be a somber affair in Pakistan this time around.
Pakistan does not have a good record of investigating plane accidents. We hope that there will be a thorough investigation to determine whether the health of the aircraft was satisfactory as well as its maintenance. Aircraft experts are perturbed that so many issues surfaced at the same time — from landing gear malfunctioning to engines that stopped working.
Those 97 lives cannot be brought back, but the least the state can do is honour those who lost their lives, by getting to the bottom of what exactly happened.
We understand that nothing will console the grieving families who lost their loved ones just days before Eid. We cannot even begin to imagine the pain they must be going through. But now it is the state’s responsibility to bring some closure. The Sindh government acted in a responsible manner by not giving out names or numbers of the deceased until they could verify and are still in the process of verifying.
Regular updates from the Sindh Health Department about the rescue and relief operations were also commendable under the face of such a huge tragedy, but a thorough investigation is needed into the response of the district administration as eyewitnesses allege that most people lost their lives to the fire that broke out and rescue teams failed to deal with at the earliest.
The media — by and large — also acted in a responsible manner despite some editorial lapses. On the other hand, social media and Whatsapp groups went rife with rumours, some even giving false hope to families.
Here we must pay tribute to the unsung heroes — those who were at the forefront of the rescue and relief efforts, including the law enforcement agencies and humanitarian organisations like the Edhi Foundation. We cannot thank them enough for working tirelessly.
Life is unpredictable but nothing prepares anyone for a sudden and tragic loss. We pray for the families of those who died in yesterday’s crash.