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Plane Crash Survivor: Here's What Happened

Mohammad Zubair talks to the press
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 23, 2020 11:30 AM CDT

(Newser) – When the plane jolted violently, Mohammad Zubair thought it was turbulence. Then the pilot came on the intercom to warn that the landing could be "troublesome." Moments later, the Pakistan International Airlines flight crashed into a crowded neighborhood near Karachi's international airport, killing 97 people, all of whom are believed to be passengers and crew members. Zubair was one of just two surviving passengers. The only other survivor of the crash was Zafar Masood, a bank executive. In a telephone interview from his hospital bed, Zubair, a mechanical engineer, said flight PK8303 had taken off on time from the eastern city of Lahore at 1pm. It was a smooth, uneventful flight until the aircraft began its descent near Karachi shortly before 3pm.

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"Suddenly the plane jerked violently, once and then again," Zubair tells the AP. The aircraft turned and the pilot's voice came over the intercom. They were experiencing engine trouble and the landing could be "troublesome," the pilot said. That was the last thing Zubair remembered until he woke up in a scene of chaos. "I saw so much smoke and fire. I heard people crying, children crying." He crawled his way out of the smoke and rubble, and was eventually pulled from the ground and rushed into an ambulance. Pakistan had only earlier this week resumed domestic flights ahead of Eid-al Fitr, which marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan. Many of the passengers aboard the flight were families returning home for the holiday, said Science Minister Fawad Ahmed Chaudhry.

(Read more plane crash stories.)

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