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Pakistan: PIA Airbus 320 from Lahore to Karachi crashes, 60 dead

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PIA Flight Pakistan

Islamabad/Karachi, May 22 : At least 60 people were killed as a Pakistan International Airline (PIA) passenger plane from Lahore to Karachi crashed minutes before landing at the Jinnah International Airport on Friday.

The PIA A320 passenger aircraft was carrying at least 90 passengers and eight crew members in the flight PK 8303, when it crashed into the densely populated vicinity called Jinnah Gardens, Model Colony, located next to the runway of the airport. PIA Spokesperson Abdullah Hafeez confirmed the accident

According to Sindh health officials, at least 60 people were killed but it was not clear whether these included passengers on the plane only or residents of the houses in which the plane had crashed, the Dawn reported.

Sindh Health Minister Dr. Azra Fazal Pechuho said that three people had survived but an aide later said that only two were passengers.

Meeran Yousuf, the media coordinator for the Sindh Health Minister, told Dawn.com that two passengers had survived and were brought to hospitals. She identified the survivors as Zubair and Zafar Masood, who is the President of Bank of Punjab.

“Zubair has 35 per cent burns and is being treated at the Civil Hospital Karachi, while Masood has four fractures and is being treated at the Darul Sehat Hospital,” said Yousuf, adding that both were in stable condition.

A third person, who had earlier been identified as a survivor from the plane, was later identified to be a resident of the area where the plane crashed.

PIA CEO, Air Marshal Arshad Malik maintained that the plane seemed to have technical issues.

“Unfortunately, today a tragic incident has occurred. I can tell this that the last words heard from the pilot were that there was some technical issue. And even though both runways were cleared for landing, the pilot wanted to take another turn,” the CEO said.

One eyewitness said that the plane first hit a mobile tower before crashing into the houses.

“The aeroplane first hit a mobile tower and crashed over houses,” said Shakeel.

Initial reports suggested that all 98 passengers, including cabin crew, may have died in the crash. However after rescue operations gained momentum, some people did manage to survive the crash.

However, the actual numbers of fatalities is not yet confirmed.

Eyewitnesses say that the plane crashed on two houses while at least seven other houses have also been badly damaged. A rescue operation has been launched as dead bodies along with the injured are being taken to the hospitals.

“Till now, at least 17 dead bodies have been brought to the Jinnah hospital while at least 4 are being shifted to Civil hospital as we have run out of our capacity,” said Dr. Seemi Jamali, Executive Director of Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre.

The recognition of the dead has become impossible as per an immense degree of burns, due to which the DNA collection will be processed to identify the deceased.

Reason for the crash will be ascertained after the inquiry is done and information from the black box, recovered from the crash site is extracted.

However, it is being speculated that technical issue, as stated by the pilot also, was due to the landing gear that failed to open at the time of landing. Other speculation is of multiple bird hits that caused the plane to crash less than a minute away from the runway.

The crash came just days after Pakistan allowed the domestic flights to resume operations after being grounded for days due to the coronavirus pandemic.

It is also pertinent to mention here that the PIA’s Engineering Department had already told the administration of the airlines several times that the aircraft was unfit for flight as it had several technical issues in some parts of its engine. They had made these revelations in writing to the respective administration.

Captain Narejo, General Secretary of the Pakistan Airline Pilots’ Association (PALPA), has stated that it would be too early to decipher what might have caused the crash, as it wouldn’t be appropriate to cause suspicion and distress among the public.

Prime Minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan, has offered condolences to the families of the departed and has ensured an immediate inquiry is instituted. Federal Minister for Aviation, Ghulam Sarwar Khan, expressed his grief and sorrow over the tragedy and has instructed the Aircraft Accident Investigation Board to come up with a prompt inquiry report for the incident.

Disaster

Iran’s Khamenei says all must help fight ‘tragic’ virus resurgence

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Ali Khamenei

Everyone must help fight the “tragic” resurgence of the novel coronavirus outbreak, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei says.

Speaking in a video conference to parliamentarians, Khamenei stated that Iran’s “enemies” fail to achieve their “anti-Iran goals” despite strong pressure on Tehran.

Earlier, Khamenei criticized the US for using “knee on neck” policies on the whole world and also accused the US of creating COVID-19.

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Disaster

China raises flood response to 2nd-highest level

The water level in Taihu Lake, the country’s second-largest freshwater lake, has risen above the alert level for 15 consecutive days, said the MWR.

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Flood in China

Beijing, July 12 : China on Sunday raised the emergency response for flood control to Level II, the second-highest in the response system, as heavy rains continued to lash vast stretches of the country.

Since July 4, alert-triggering floods have been observed in 212 rivers nationwide, among which 19 topped previous water level records, Xinhua news agency quoted the Ministry of Water Resources (MWR) as saying.

By Sunday afternoon, floods in 27 provincial regions, including Jiangxi, Anhui, and Hubei had resulted in the deaths or disappearance of 141 people, and 2.25 million emergency relocations this year.

Around 28,000 homes were flattened and 3.53 million hectares of crops affected, with the direct economic loss at 82.23 billion yuan ($11 billion).

The water level in Taihu Lake, the country’s second-largest freshwater lake, has risen above the alert level for 15 consecutive days, said the MWR.

China’s State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters also lifted the emergency response to Level II later Sunday, following its last upgrade from Level IV to Level III on July 7.

The announcement came after Poyang lake, China’s largest freshwater lake located in Jiangxi province, saw its water level at the Hukou station nearing the guaranteed level of 22.5 metres at 4 p.m. on Sunday, indicating an extraordinary emergency of flood control.

Due to severe flooding, the headquarters, the Ministry of Emergency Management, and the National Food and Strategic Reserves Administration on Sunday allocated disaster-relief supplies to Jiangxi, Hunan, and Guizhou.

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Thousands march in UK in support of Black Lives Matter

The Sussex force said the man was arrested and became aggressive towards officers before being placed on the ground.

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Black Live Matter Protest Brighton

London, July 12 : Some 5,000 people took to the streets of UK’s Brighton city in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, the media reported.

Large crowds of demonstrators set off from the city’s Palace Pier on Saturday afternoon, with many carrying signs that read “Decolonise everything” and “Defund the police”, the Metro newspaper reported.

Protesters shouted “black lives matter every day” and “UK is not innocent” as they walked together along the seafront and were serenaded by a string quartet as they passed the Brighton war memorial.

Congregating at The Level, thousands of demonstrators called out together: “It is our duty to do this every day. It is our duty to fight for racial justice. It is our duty to win. We are stronger together.

“We are here with love, peace and solidarity. We have nothing to lose – too many have already lost too much.”

Saturday’s march came days after footage of a young man being held down by police emerged, according to the Metro newspaper report.

He shouted “I can’t breathe” during the incident, complaining that one of the officers was putting pressure on his neck.

The Sussex force said the man was arrested and became aggressive towards officers before being placed on the ground.

The incident has been referred to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC).

Saturday’s demonstration follows mass anti-racism protests across the world in response to the death of George Floyd, an unarmed African-American who died under police custody in Minneapolis on May 25.

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