Karachi: A chartered plane carrying employees of an Italian oil company crashed into an open field near Central Ordinance Depot (COD) on Friday morning killing all 21 passengers on-board including 3 crew members and a foreigner.
A Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) official told Online that the ill-fated plane took off for Bhitshah oil field located some 200 kilometers northeast of Karachi, at 7:13 am, and crashed just within a minute after taking off.
Just 3o seconds after the take-off, the pilot Captain Naeem informed the control tower at Quaid-I-Azam International airport that one engine of the plane had been ceased, and he was having difficulties in controlling the plane, the CAA official said.
“The plane was directed to return but it crashed soon after the control tower’s directive,” Pervez George, a CAA spokesman told Online.
This was the last communication between the pilot and the control tower as the plane hit the ground soon after amid a huge blast, which was heard within radius of various kilometers.
Luckily, the official said, the plane crashed into an open field averting any loss of lives on the ground. Giant plums of smoke wafted upward after the wreckage of the plane caught fire charring all the bodies.
“The plane has been totally gutted and there are no survivors,” lieutenant Colonel Noor Alam in charge of rescue operation told newsmen.
The army personnel sealed the site soon after the blast and commenced the rescue operation backed by ambulances of Edhi, Chippa, and other private relief organization.
“ All 21 bodies have been recovered from the plane, which are beyond recognition as they have been completely gutted”, colonel Alam said.
“ You can’t even recognize whether the body is that of a man or a woman”, he maintained.
Seventeen out of 21 deceased, were the employees of the Italian oil company, who were going back to their weekly shift after spending holidays. The nationality of the foreigner has not so fare been disclosed by the oil company, however the US embassy in Islamabad said it was looking into the reports regarding presence of “Americans” on the aircraft.
The deceased included one air guard of the Airport Security Force (ASF), Inspector Zafar, who was on his routine security duty.
The charred bodies were first shifted to Agha Khan hospital, and later to Jinnah Hospital where identification process was on. However, doctors said that the identification of the deceased could only be possible through DNA test.
“ You cannot imagine about the condition of most of the bodies. They are like coal as the fire totally gutted them”, a doctor at Agha Khan hospital said.
However, he said, a few bodies , had been recognized by their family members, and were being shifted to Edhi mortuary.
According to hospital sources the bodies of Captain Naeem and his deputy Captain Usman have been identified through their badges.
Captain Nadeem Hanif, a spokesman for the Jehangir Siddiqui air company that owned the plane, told newsmen that the aircraft had undergone a complete technical check up before it took off.
“ Everything was clear from technical point of view”, Captain Hanif said.
This, he said, was a normal procedure that no aircraft could take off before technical checking, and , he added, same had been done in case of the ill-fated plane.
He said the pilot and the co-pilot were senior members of the company’s crew having a long flying experience.