Two major plane tragedies averted in Pakistan



Lahore/Islamabad: A handful of people on Friday sustained minor injuries as a Pakistan International Airlines flight went off the runway at Lahore airport while scores more escaped unhurt as another plane made an emergency landing in Quetta.

The more serious incident at the Lahore airport involved an ATR-42 aircraft, which skidded off the runway while landing in rainy weather. The aircraft was extensively damaged as it came to rest on its side in the ground beside the runway.

Officials said the 48 people on board remained safe though a handful sustained very minor injuries. A Civil Aviation Authority spokesman told a news agency that the plane was flying to Lahore from Islamabad.

"During landing at the Lahore airport, the plane skidded off the runway. All 48 people on board, including the crew, remained safe," he said.

The CAA declared an emergency at the airport and launched efforts to clear the runway, which was closed after the incident. Several flights were delayed due to the closure of the main runway.

The CAA subsequently opened another runway usually used for emergencies. Though the weather in Lahore was rough, officials said the incident may have occurred due to pilot error as he landed the aircraft at the edge of the runway. An investigation was launched to ascertain the cause of the incident.

Another PIA flight made an emergency landing at Quetta airport after developing a technical fault, officials said. The aircraft, with 196 people on board, was flying from Kuwait to Lahore.

The passengers and crew were evacuated safely, officials said. PIA engineers began repairing the aircraft and officials said the passengers would be flown to Lahore in another plane if the repairs took longer than expected.

Pakistan's cash-strapped national carrier has been hit by a series of problems over the past few years, including numerous delays and cancellation of its flights and reports of poor maintenance of its aircraft.

PTI