Pakistan plane crash: Survivor tells story of escape from wreckage near Karachi airport

Raza Hamdani
Muhammad Zubair, a survivor of the PK8303 plane crash, sits in a hospital bed as he recovers: Raza Hamdani/Ramisha Ali

“I jumped 10ft to 12ft from the plane and started running away from the plane, but could not go far and fell unconscious.”

Muhammad Zubair, a resident of Karachi, Pakistan, is a civil engineer by profession and had gone to Sialkot, a city some 82 miles from Lahore, for work. He was returning back home on PK 8303 to celebrate Eid with his family.

Lying on a hospital bed, with a bouquet of flowers by his side, he seemed calm and was talking to his elder cousin Arshad Ali. He is 25 years old, single and the youngest of six siblings.

Asked to narrate what happened and what went through his mind during and after Friday’s crash, he paused for some time and said that at no time did the pilot announce to brace for impact. He said that the pilot tried to land the plane at Jinnah International Airport, Karachi, once but could not.

“The plane ascended again and the pilot I think tried to land at Malir Cantt but after failing to do so he again approached Karachi Airport to land and that was when the plane crashed.”


Mali Cantt is a military area approximately 6 miles from Karachi Airport.

Zubair added that observing the plane flying so low and continuously losing altitude he covered his face.

“I covered my face with my hands and next thing I saw was fire and smoke in the plane. I unbuckled my seat belt and looked around. It took me some time before I saw light and I started to walk towards that light. I found an opening from where I jumped. It was a 10ft-to-12ft jump. I could see houses all around with a few damaged ones and fire at some places.”

PIA plane PK 8303 crashed on Friday in the densely populated Model Colony area. The crash site is a short and narrow dead-end street.

With a few bruises on his face and a drip in his arm, Zubair recounted that after jumping from the plane he mustered enough energy to run away. “I ran towards the street but could not go too far as I fell unconscious. I gained consciousness again in an ambulance and I was told I was being taken to Jinnah hospital.”

At Jinnah hospital, a doctor asked him about next of kin contact details and he gave his eldest brother’s number.

Zubair’s eldest cousin Arshad Ali, recounting the moment he came to know of the crash, said that he first called Zubair’s employer to confirm the flight number. “When the employer told us PK 8303, our whole world crumbled. We were looking forward to meeting him at home and celebrating Eid together one minute and another minute we were wailing over the crash of the plane he was on.”

Arshad said that the whole family came out of the house and a few of them went towards the crash site while some went to the two hospitals. “I was on my way to the crash site when I received a call telling me Zubair was alive at the Jinnah Hospital. I just could not believe my ears and asked again.”

A day after the crash, Zubair has been discharged and is back home with his family. His immediate and extended family is ecstatic and he is covered with garlands. Family members sitting next to him are talking to him and the home atmosphere is celebratory once again.

Zubair, a frequent flier due to the nature of his job, said: “If I have to travel by air again and if there is no other option I will. It is all Allah’s will. But I will at least think twice about flying and will prefer an alternative travelling option.”

Read more

Dozens killed as Airbus jet crashes near Pakistan airport