MULTAN, Pakistan (AP) — Panic gripped passengers when a Pakistan International Airlines plane made unusual noises while returning to Pakistan from Saudi Arabia, but the aircraft safely landed at the Karachi airport, a passenger and airport officials said Thursday.
The scare came weeks after another of the airline’s Airbus A320 aircraft went down in a residential area, killing 97 passengers and crew members.
Pakistan International Airlines in a statement rejected local media reports that flight PK-8726 made an emergency landing Wednesday night on its return from Riyadh.
It said a part on the A320 developed a problem and was being fixed. The airline did not provide details about the nature of the problem, which resulted in the plane making noises that terrified passengers who were in a state of shock when the plane landed, according to three airport officials who spoke from Jinnah International Airport in Karachi on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to speak to media.
Passenger Zafar Iqbal told The Associated Press that the flight crew consoled passengers when the plane made unusual noises and “when the plane landed at the Karachi airport, then the crew shared only this information that there was a fault in a part of the plane but we safely landed.″ Iqbal, who commented after reaching the Multan airport, said passengers prayed and recited verses from the Quran.
He said some passengers were so terrified they thought about travelling to Multan from Karachi by road.
The airline arranged for another plane to take passengers from Karachi to Multan, a city in eastern Punjab province.
Pakistan’s state-run airline has faced criticism since May when its Airbus A320 crashed near Karachi airport. Only two passengers survived the crash that also killed a girl on the ground.
Initial reports suggested the jetliner crashed after an engine failed. Flight PK-8303 took off from the eastern city of Lahore and was trying to land at Karachi airport when it crashed. Pakistan will release the initial findings of its investigation into the crash later this month.