BREAKING NEWS MULTAN: A Pakistan International Airlines jet bound for Saudi Arabia with 508 people on board was forced to abort take-off Thursday when fumes engulfed a terrified cabin, officials and passengers said.
The Boeing 747 on flight PK 3539 carrying mostly pilgrims to the Saudi city of Jeddah taxied towards the runway in the southern city of Multan despite concerns from passengers on board.
“When we boarded the plane, we felt a strange smell and smoke inside. We complained to the crew but they ignored it and told us it was because of roasted meals,” Shamshad Begum, a female passenger, told AFP.
“The plane went for take-off but stopped minutes later when passengers protested strongly and there was chaos,” she said.
PIA spokesman Sultan Hassan said there were 493 pilgrims bound for the holy sites in Makkah and Medina and 15 crew on board when take-off was scrapped.
“The hydraulic system of the plane failed just before take-off and its fumes came inside the cabin. We off-loaded the passengers and sent them on another plane,” Hassan told AFP.
Local media has been rife with horror stories of technical faults and chronic delays blighting the ailing national carrier in recent weeks.
Last month, bomb alerts forced two PIA planes to land at Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport and in Kuala Lumpur, but no bombs were found.