Islamabad tragedy – a close call

Raza Rumi from Islamabad

Ten minutes before the air crash this morning I was in a PIA aircraft that was unable to land at the Benazir Bhutto International Airport for 45 minutes. We were meant to land at 8.50 am but the pilot informed around 9 am that he was unable to land. He kept on circulating around Islamabad avoiding a major storm, heavy rain and lack of visibility. The passengers were quite petrified. Even I woke up from my early morning nap and could not help wondering if these were my last moments. It was rocky, turbulent ride.

The plane finally landed at 9.45 am. The pilot was clever as he took different air routes and navigated the plane well. As we landed, my phone started to ring and just outside the airport when the news broke out, my friend from overseas called to inquire if I was OK. I had no clue that this horrible tragedy had occurred. Several calls followed.

While we were landing, it makes me shiver that another aircraft had lost contact with the control tower in Islamabad and was about to crash amid thick fog and heavy rainfall.

As I drove to Islamabad, smoke from the rain-washed Margallas was visible. The onlookers were terrified to see this tragedy unfold in front of their eyes.

At present,Margalla Road (also known as Khayaban e Iqbal) is closed for traffic as the rescue operaitons are underway. Thank God there are survivors many of them have been air-lifted. But this is going to be a long and arduous operation given the scale and the problem of accessing the hills via road.

It is a sad day – raises several questions about airlines’ regulation, the aviation industry and of course our ability to manage disasters and emergencies.

My prayers are with the families of the deceased and the injured survivors.

16 Comments

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16 responses to “Islamabad tragedy – a close call

  1. Mnoor

    Some of the victims of the airblue aircrash were talented Pakistani students going to attend the session of Youth Parliament of Pakistan in Islamabad. I can’t imagine what the parents are feeling right now.

  2. Israr

    There are no survivors. Again, our ministers proved that they are stupid.

    Glad to learn that Raza Rumi is safe.

  3. Maryanne Khan

    My deepest sympathies to all families of the victims, and wish hope to survivors.

    I have been watching it since news broke as it happened and that was immediately broadcast here with great sadness here on the Australian Broadcasting Commission. Believe me, as a nation, we are all profoundly sad for you. That’s how the message is being broadcast here.

    m

  4. Horrible tragedy…..deepest sympathies from my side too.

    Very sad….people die either by bomb blast or by air crash or in iraq/afganishtan …….i dont know when there will be peace……..

    Thank God Raza Rumi is safe……bless him.

  5. Raza Raja

    I am feeling really sad. Daughter of one of the ex employee of the organization I work for was also in the flight.

    Obviously he is devastated.

  6. banjara286

    heartbreaking. inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raaji’oon😦

  7. Bin Ismail

    Inna lillahi wa inna ilaihi raaji’oon. May the departed souls rest in peace.

  8. YLH

    Raza bhai…. Glad that you are safe.

  9. Tilsim

    Heartbreaking indeed. Our prayers go out to those who departed and those that have suffered an immense loss.

  10. You were lucky to have a pilot who sensed the danger of not going into a difficult situation. ED-202 wasnt that lucky and perished.

  11. YLH

    Jalal,

    My question: Could it be that the plane was shot down?

    I mean it crashed within 4 miles of the national assembly, the presidency, the proposed GHQ, the Air headquarter and smack in the middle of the “No-Fly Zone”?

    Could it be that the plane was shot-down. Those of us who have hiked up the Margalla Hills know that the hills are swarming with military personnel and equipment.

  12. bciv

    the hills are swarming with military personnel and equipment.

    a mid-air explosion (and it’s highly unlikely that anything fired from the ground could have caused instant disintegration) would have meant debris strewn over a much larger area. the shape and size of the debris footprint seem more consistent with flying virtually intact into terrain.

    if the plane was shot down, or if it had a serious enough technical failure that the pilots had become aware of, this would have been mentioned in the pilots’ conversation with the control tower (or at least each other). is there any such mention?

    indeed, upon entry into a no-fly zone, one would expect at least some rudimentary warning and identification procedure to be followed. in any case, is the islamabad no-fly zone enforced by ground radar or is it left to the pilots themselves and the air traffic controllers to avoid the zone? if the latter is the case, no one on the ground would be able to detect and establish a breach of the zone other than by plain sight.

  13. D_a_n

    @ Bciv…

    ‘is the islamabad no-fly zone enforced by ground radar or is it left to the pilots themselves and the air traffic controllers to avoid the zone?’

    the area is pretty much covered completely by radar.
    The ATC chaps are mostly airforce ATC officers as the same runways form part of the chaklala flightline and are used by PAF aircrafts as well…
    The ATC would have advised the aircraft to approach so there is no requirement for any kind of warning or such. I believe it is a no fly zone for any other type of air traffic.

  14. bciv

    D_a_n, there must be some (probably elective) procedure in place in order to give an inadvertent or helpless aircraft some opportunity to confirm its obvious innocence (e.g. a marked and ‘in-conversation with the ATC’ A321) before being shot down, is there not? not that we are saying this particular aircraft was shot down.

  15. @YLH
    There are many speculations – but if it was fired at, someone should have heard the cannon fire or a missile launch noise.
    There are many theories, but what actually happened would depend on findings from the black box which has yet not been found.
    In one of the posts, I read that the plane had even drifted over Kahuta and was corrected by ground controller (I should have marked that psot for record but missed). This is something that raises concerns. After drifting over one very sensitive no-fly-zone, it entered into yet another.
    I am keeping my fingers crossed.

  16. Faiza

    i was watching TV when this news suddenly broke. i was the first in my house to hear this. after going through different channel’s reports when it was announced that ‘none survived” i had a feeling mixed with terror and pain. now when ever i saw an airplane that videos and its pic always come into my mind. i don’t know why but i feel great affection with this disaster.