Karachi / Islamabad:
When Fazal Rahmaan (80) and his wife Wahida Rahmaan (74) boarded a plane in the Pakistani city of Lahore on Friday, their family most feared that they might catch the corona virus on their way to Karachi on vacation.
Instead, the couple, who had been married for 54 years, were among the 97 dead when an Airbus A320 operated by Pakistan International Airlines crashed into a Karachi neighborhood – Pakistan's worst air disaster since 2012.
"We made many calls to doctors and family members … Our main concern was that they made the trip safe," said her son Inam Ur Rahmaan, who had not welcomed his parents for the Eid al-Fitr vacation PK8303 flight wreck praying for a miracle.
"I got in my car and followed the smoke and ambulance," said Rahmaan.
"When I saw the area, I realized that it would be a miracle if they made it."
There were two survivors aboard the plane, while no deaths on the ground were reported in the crowded neighborhood of multi-story houses on the eastern edge of Jinnah International Airport, where the plane crashed.
More than two dozen houses were damaged when the airliner roared in, leaving a tangle of severed electrical cables and exposed rebars – a broken wing resting on the side of a house, an engine on the ground nearby.
The jet fuel set the wreck on fire along with houses and vehicles and sent black smoke into the sky, a Reuters witness said.
Crowds of people rushed to the site, relatives looking for relatives, rescue workers and the curious. Numerous ambulances and fire engines blocked the narrow, crowded streets.
A rescue worker told Reuters that two bodies with oxygen masks were found. Many bodies that were pulled from the rubble were charred beyond recognition.
The airline's managing director said on Friday that the pilot's latest message pointed to a technical problem. An Airbus team is due to arrive on Monday to investigate, a PIA spokesman said.
"They will do all they can, including deciphering the black box," said spokesman Khan, referring to the flight data recorder.
SCREAM AND FIRE
45-year-old Shahid Ahmed was waiting for his mother's arrival at the airport. When he reached the crash site, he saw rescuers retrieving corpses and people taking selfies.
"Nobody was responsible on site, people were busy posing for pictures," said a troubled Ahmed, who lost his mother, Dishad Begum, 75, who also flew to Karachi for Eid.
After searching the site and not finding his mother, Ahmed found her in hospitals.
"There was no list of dead or injured in any of the hospitals, it was all chaos and mismanagement," said Ahmed, who was sobbing as he told the torture.
"The search for our mother's body was a nightmare."
One of the survivors, engineer Muhammad Zubair, told Geo News that the pilot had landed, landed briefly, and then pulled up again.
He announced that he would try again shortly before the plane crashed, Zubair said from the hospital.
"I could hear screams from all directions. Children and adults. All I could see was fire. I couldn't see people – just hear their screams," he said.
Rahmaan said his family is still in shock.
"There is no oath in our house," he said.
Rahmaan said he consoled himself that his parents always wanted to be with each other.
"Whatever happened, whatever the reason, they always wanted to be together. In the end, they were together."
(Except for the headline, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and published from a syndicated feed.)