Karachi: A bird strike is the likely cause of the crash of a Russian-made cargo plane in Karachi, the operator of the aircraft has said.
The plane had crashed seconds after taking off from Karachi International Airport on Sunday, killing all eight crewmembers on board and injuring seven others.
It was heading for Sudan’s capital city of Khartoum.
“The likely cause was the damage of the aircraft engine caused by a bird strike,” the Nation quoted Dzhemal Tamazashvili, Director of the Georgian airline Sun Way, the operator of the aircraft, as saying.
“Two weeks ago, in accordance with maintenance procedures, the aircraft underwent a technical check. It was in an ideal condition while the crew had an 18-hour rest before the flight,” he added.
Tamazashvili said that the plane had been leased by Sun Way and performed flights under the Individual Partnership Action Plan (IPAP) worked out jointly with NATO.
“The Il-76 plane, which carried a humanitarian cargo, fell 500 meters from the takeoff run,” he said.
According to witnesses, the plane slammed into the buildings under construction in the sensitive Dalmai neighbourhood, where the Pakistan Air Force and Navy have residential apartments and offices.
The explosion caused by the crash was so powerful that local residents thought it was triggered by a bomb, said Karachi police chief Fayyas Leghari.
Flames raged in four to five construction sites, but officials said that the number of casualties could have been far higher if the plane had struck nearby residential buildings.
It was the third plane accident within four months in Pakistan, and the second aircraft to crash after take off from Karachi in just four weeks.