Families mourn PIA plane crash victims on Eid


By Minahil Makhdoom

ISLAMABAD: Eid is an occasion of joys and celebrations, but not for those who have lost their loved ones just few days before the holy occasion, in a deadly Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) flight crash. There are many tragic stories of the passengers, who were boarding the ill-fated flight.
One of the couples named Fazal Rahmaan, 80, and his wife, Wahida Rahmaan, 74, boarded a plane in the ill-fated plane from Lahore on Friday, their family’s biggest fear was that they might catch the coronavirus on their way to spend the holiday in Karachi. Instead the couple, who had been married for 54 years, were among the 97 people killed when an Airbus A320, operated by Pakistan International Airlines, crashed into a Karachi neighbourhood – Pakistan’s worst air disaster since 2012.
“We held many calls deliberating with doctors and family … Our biggest concern was that they made the trip safely,†said their son, Inam-ur-Rahmaan, who instead of welcoming his parents for the Eidul Fitr holiday found himself picking through the wreckage of flight PK8303 praying for a miracle. “I got in my car and followed the smoke and the ambulances,†said Rahmaan.
There were two survivors from onboard the aircraft, while no fatalities were reported on the ground in the densely packed neighbourhood of multi-story homes abutting the eastern edge of Jinnah International Airport where the plane came down. Shahid Ahmed, 45, was at the airport waiting for his mother to arrive. When he reached the crash site he saw rescuers retrieving bodies.
“There was no one responsible at the site, people were busy posing for pictures,†said a distraught Ahmed, who lost his mother, Dishad Begum, 75, who was also flying to Karachi for Eid. After scouring the site and failing to find his mother, Ahmed went to look for her in hospitals. One of the survivors, engineer Muhammad Zubair, said the pilot came down to land, briefly touched down, then pulled up again.
He announced he was going to make a second try shortly before the plane crashed, Zubair said from hospital. “I could hear screams from all directions. Kids and adults. All I could see was fire. I couldn’t see any people – just hear their screams,†he said.