Pakistan finds 'human error' in deadly Karachi plane crash

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Pakistan's aviation minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan speaks during a press conference in Islamabad, Pakistan, Wednesday, June 24, 2020. Khan said that human error" on the part of the pilot, the co-pilot and air traffic control caused last month's plane crash in the port city of Karachi that killed all 97 people on board. (AP Photo/Anjum Naveed)

ISLAMABAD – Pakistan's aviation minister said Wednesday that “human error" on the part of the pilot, the co-pilot and air traffic control caused last month's Pakistan International Airlines crash in the port city of Karachi that killed 97 people.

The announcement shed new light on the tragedy after Pakistani investigators earlier said only that the crash resulted from engine failure. It also revealed previously unconfirmed details, including that the plane had made a failed attempt at landing during which its engines apparently scraped the runway, causing significant damage.

The plane went down in a residential area near Jinnah International Airport on May 22, just days after Pakistan lifted restrictions imposed over the coronavirus pandemic and resumed domestic flights ahead of the major Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.

Pakistan had been in a countrywide lockdown since mid-March because of the virus.

When flights resumed in May, every other seat on planes was left vacant to promote social distancing, including on the doomed Pakistan International Airlines flight.

There were only two survivors of the Airbus A320 crash, which was carrying 91 passengers and eight crew members. A 13-year-old girl from the neighborhood where the plane went down was critically injured and later died in a hospital.

Aviation Minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan, presenting preliminary findings in Pakistan’s probe into the crash in parliament, said the pilot ignored instructions from air traffic control while trying to land.

According to the cockpit voice recorder, which was later found among the debris on the ground, the pilots had discussed the coronavirus throughout the flight, which had apparently affected their families.