KARACHI: A private aircraft, chartered by an Italian oil company, crashed minutes after take-off in a ground near the Karachi airport on Friday morning. All 21 passengers including an Italian national perished in the disaster, police and army official confirmed.
Bound for Bhit Shah Oilfield, the ill-fated Beech 1900 aircraft, carrying staff of the Italian multinational oil company – Eni – crashed inside the premises of the Army’s Central Ordnance Depot few kilometers from Jinnah International Airport.
Employees onboard were off to resume their weekly shift at the site of the oil and gas field. No one could survive as it plunged from around one thousand feet. The plane, also known as Beechcraft 1900, was one of the three owned by JS Air, an affiliate of Jahangir Siddiqui Group.
Sources in the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) believed that the aircraft developed engine problems, with loss of power on one of the power plants, and the pilot attempted to try to return to its airport of origin, but instead it nosedived and hit the ground.
According to the CAA officials it was just a matter of few minutes taking off and diving down to ground, around three to four kilometers from the runway. The engineers and technicians including the crew were all declared dead and the CAA has started probe of the incident.
The incident, took place at about 07:13 a.m., also claimed life of an Italian staffer of the oil company, identified as Sasso Antonio, by the company. An army rescue team rushed to the crash site and extinguished fire flaming out of the plane’s wreckage.
Talking to newsmen at the crash site, Lieutenant Colonel Noor Alam said that all the people on board were killed in the crash. Around 15 dead bodies were immediately recovered and shifted to Aga Khan Hospitals for due process of law. The bodies were charred to the point of no recognition.
The pilot contacted air traffic control almost immediately, reporting engine trouble and was given permission to return to the airport. “The bodies of the pilot and co-pilot were retrieved after cutting the front portion of the Beechcraft 1900,” another army officer told Daily Mail.
George Pervez, the spokesman of CAA, told media that twenty-one persons including nineteen employees of the company and two crew were onboard the ill-fated plane, which crashed near military establishment after developing fault in engines.
According to the police, eight out of the 21 dead bodies have been identified while the authorities have taken DNA samples from thirteen bodies charred beyond recognition. The bodies of pilot and co-pilot were identified by virtue of their respective seats.
Niaz Ahmed Khosa, the SSP Investigation of Karachi Police East-I, informed that the police had exempted postmortem of dead bodies, as almost all of them were badly burnt. However, the police have carried out autopsies of the pilot and co-pilot’s bodies to ascertain probability of any substance use and medical condition.
Body of another victim, Sajid Rafiq, was identified by virtue of his six-fingers by his brother. Body of Zafar Iqbal, the air-guard from Airport Security Force (ASF), was identified by virtue of his burnt out uniform. Relatives of the victims were seen consoling their loved ones over phone at the hospital, where bodies were kept for identification.
Though the JS Air spokesman said that the aircraft was fit and having airworthiness by all means, the CAA has yet to probe and re-examine whether the air craft was fit in operational side or was having any technical problem before it took off on Friday morning.