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May 23, 2020

Senseless tragedy

Editorial

 
May 23, 2020

Pakistan is already struggling against what some describe as potentially the worst calamity in modern history, with the Covid-19 crisis already claiming more than 1000 lives in Pakistan. Amidst this, the news of one of the worst air crashes in PIA’s history only makes matters worse. So does the fact that the more than 90 passengers on board, along with eight crew members were traveling back only a day after flights resumed in the country, in all probability to visit family for Eid. For so many families, even this joy has been snatched away from them. It is still far too early to say precisely what happened aboard PK8303, that went down in flames just a minute before it was to land at Jinnah Terminal in Karachi. With a fire having broken out in both engines rendering both nonfunctional, questions will arise about the maintenance of the plane and reasons for the technical disaster. The pilot is reported by the Pakistan Air Line Pilots’ Association to have been among the most experienced and competent members of its flying crew. The air tragedy was made worse by the fact that the area around the airport has over the years been built up with high-rise buildings of up to four stories standing around it. People in buildings which tumbled to the ground as the aircraft hit them at high speed are also believed to have been buried under rubble and a terrible sense of panic and grief could be seen in the area.

This tragic crash is yet another major accident in recent history in Pakistan. While the rescue workers and medical staff have done what they could, there must be some reflection on the state of air traffic affairs in the country. In recent history there have been at least half a dozen plane crashes involving both civilian and non-civilian planes. And in none of the tragedies has there been any accountability of those who were responsible for such tragic accidents. The normal routine is that those higher up in the food chain order an inquiry which goes on for months and in the meantime the media and public tend to forget about it.

We did see some miracles in yesterday’s crash, with news trickling in of at least some survivors, a few of them in critical condition though. It seems we are living in a time of constant, never-ending tragedy. Our thoughts should be with the families of those who died, either in the aircraft or on the ground in a colony that should never have been allowed to develop so close to a major airport. And with this particular tragedy in broad daylight and in crystal clear weather, there should be no excuses. A thorough inquiry must be conducted and the details brought to the fore with responsible people taken to task.