‘Buses broke plane’s fall, otherwise it would have hit residential area’

Published June 4, 2014
Security personnel stand beside the wreckage of a bus after a Pakistan air force fighter plane crashed at a bus terminal on the outskirts of Karachi on June 3, 2014. — Photo by AFP
Security personnel stand beside the wreckage of a bus after a Pakistan air force fighter plane crashed at a bus terminal on the outskirts of Karachi on June 3, 2014. — Photo by AFP
Asadullah, one of the injured bus drivers, is under treatment at a private hospital following the plane crash on Tuesday.
—Photo by author
Asadullah, one of the injured bus drivers, is under treatment at a private hospital following the plane crash on Tuesday. —Photo by author

KARACHI: The plane first hit an electricity pole, then the edge of its one wing collided with the top of a bus before hitting three other buses and crashing into the bus terminal ground here, said Amjad Ali, a shop owner in Yousuf Goth near Baldia Town where a Pakistan Air Force trainer plane crashed on Tuesday.

“I was standing outside my shop when I saw the plane flying low and swaying in mid-air. I immediately knew it was in trouble, as were we,” he added.

In the ground near the Mirage trainer plane’s burnt fuselage were the three buses that took the brunt of the damage. The place was strewn with shards of glass as the air reeked of burnt oil.

Ubaid Awan, an area resident, said: “My wife and I were returning from the market when we heard this terrible explosion. There were pieces of the plane scattered everywhere and besides the plane and the buses it crashed upon, the bushes also were on fire.

“Soon the Edhi ambulances arrived and they pulled the bodies out of the burning plane and the drivers from the buses. The fire tenders, too, arrived very quickly and put out the fire.

“The buses broke the plane’s fall, otherwise it would have entered the residential area and there would have been further devastation. It was also noon with the sun out. Otherwise, the ground also has neighbourhood children playing cricket in the evenings,” he said.

Meanwhile, an elderly woman wept quietly as she shared with others gathered at the spot, “Do you know? Chacha Ali was killed.”

The woman said she used to sell seeds at the bus terminal and Chacha Ali was a kind bus driver who even let her sell the seeds on his bus, too. “He was a decent, bearded man, very caring,” said Farida Bibi as she turned to the Hino bus with its top portion missing and bearing the name Jasim-Jan.

Someone said that the deceased driver Chacha Ali’s real name was Chakar Jan.

The two other civilians who died in the accident were bus driver Ali Akbar and painter Sajid. The other casualties were the two pilots in the plane.

Besides, three bus drivers were injured.

Following the damage caused to the electric pole and wires, Karachi Electric technicians disconnected the connection to the area to avoid any further damage. “These are high tension 11,000KV wires. We have disconnected the connection to the area for now,” said Faisal Khan, AE with the Baldia KE office.

The injured were taken to Murshid Hospital, which is close to the place where the plane crashed.

Asadullah, one of the three injured bus drivers who was suffering from a head injury, said he was busy cleaning his bus Al Naveed that travels between Karachi and Gwadar before a scheduled journey when he heard the sound of an aircraft but he never thought it would come crashing on his head. “It’s a miracle that I’m alive. I’ve heard that the others were not so lucky,” he added quietly.

Next to him in the same hospital’s emergency ward was driver Mohammad Shaukat who suffered a neck injury along with some internal bleeding. “I was sleeping on the rooftop of my bus. When the plane hit the bus, it sliced the roof that fell to one side with me on it,” he said.

“Thankfully, the passengers hadn’t yet boarded the buses, otherwise there would have been several more casualties,” he said.

Published in Dawn, June 4th, 2014

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