Karachi crashed plane firm owned by UAE firm

Aircraft that took off from Fujairah claims 12 lives. Toll expected to rise as labourers on field feared killed

The Russian made cargo aircraft that crashed in Karachi early Sunday morning belongs to a UAE-based company.

The Ilyushin IL-76 took off from Fujairah airport for loading cargo at Karachi and was headed to Khartoum.

The ill-fated aircraft was leased out by Euro Asian Air Services Inc based in Sharjah Int’l Airport Free Zone (SAIF) from Vision Air.

An official at Euro Asian Air Services has confirmed the flight was operated by them and originated from Fujairah.

“It took off from Fujairah; stopped in Karachi for loading and was on its way to Khartoum when the accident occurred. Eight of our crew died in the accident,” said the official on condition of anonymity.

After the loading, the cargo plane took off at 1.45 am from the Jinnah Karachi International Airport for Khartoum.

“I am not allowed to divulge additional information as investigation is still on. I cannot say anything about what caused the accident. Probe is on about all aspects,” he added. The cargo on board is suspected to be tents.

The accident occurred seconds after it took off from Karachi early Sunday, a spokesman for Pakistan's civil aviation authority said. CNN reported the death toll at 12 and added the number is expected to increase further as unknown number of labourers are feared killed when the aircraft slammed into airport buildings in the Pakistani business capital.

"All eight people on board have died, we fear that some labourers on the ground have also been killed," said reports quoting CAA spokesman Pervez George.  Since then authorities have recovered bodies of four more labourers who were sleeping in an under-construction building that the plane crashed into, said George.

According to the report the plane appeared to hit several buildings that were under construction.

The pilot appeared to deliberately bring the plane down in a less densely populated residential area in order to save lives. Masood Raza, a Karachi district government official told Pakistan’s GEO News that the the diaster would have been worse if the plane had crashed in a (more crowded) residential area.

It was the third plane accident in four months in Pakistan, a country of 170 million people where inter-city travel is most efficient by air, and the second aircraft to crash after take off from Karachi in just four weeks.

Witnesses spoke of their horror at seeing a fireball racing through the night sky. "I saw a fireball plummeting to ground," milk seller Mohammad Raees told AFP. He had been going home on his motorbike after closing his shop. "It was so huge and quick. I was terrified. I couldn't see what it was. I sped up to save my life and after a few seconds I heard a deafening explosion, but thanks to Allah my life was saved and I was not injured."

The explosion caused by the crash was so powerful that local residents thought it was triggered by a bomb, said Karachi police chief Fayyas Leghari. The crash sparked fires in four or five construction sites, but officials said the number of casualties would have been far higher if the plane had struck nearby residential buildings.

A Civil Aviation Authority official speaking to AFP on condition of anonymity said that the plane crashed close to Navy residential apartments. The site was near to the military-controlled area where a Pakistani twin-engine turboprop crashed after take off from the city on November 5, killing all 21 people on board.

The US-manufactured Beech 1900C aircraft operated by local company JS Air was carrying staff from an Italian oil company to an oil field in the southern province of Sindh.

On July 28, an Airbus 321 passenger jet operated by Airblue crashed into hills near the Pakistani capital Islamabad while coming in to land after a flight from Karachi, killing 152 people on board.

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