KARACHI: As news broke that an ill-fated Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) jet plunged into a residential area after scrambling to land at the Karachi airport, social media went into overdrive sharing unverified details on the tragedy.
The Express Tribune analysed these posts to determine the veracity of the minute-by-minute updates shared on Facebook, Twitter and Whatsapp.
At least 85 of the 99 onboard the national flag carrier plane have been confirmed dead so far.
Journalist Azaz Syed posted a photo on Twitter supposedly showing an aerial view of both the engines of PK-8303 teeming with smoke as it nose-dived.
The image was not only widely shared on Twitter and Facebook but also aired by numerous television channels.The image is fake and is originally from a YouTube simulator video.A screengrab at 46 seconds into the video using the reverse-image search function of the Google search engine is the same as the one seen in the post.
When asked by a Twitter user about the authencity of the image, Azaz replied by saying he only posted it to “grab attention”.
Another rumour circulating on social media was that in the midst of the chaos caused by the plane crashing into the residential area citizens began looting the homes the Airbus A320 struck.A video message was shared here detailing how this was purportedly taking place.
Television anchor Zarrar Khuhro asked Faisal Edhi, chairman of the Edhi foundation, one of the first responders to the scene, whether this was the case on his show.Faisal denied that any incident like this occured on air.
One Twitter user went as far as to post a fake image of the PIA badge of the deceased pilot found from the wreckage.
A conversation between the pilot and airtraffic controller before the crash also shared hundreds of times on social media.
In the audio, the pilot can be hear saying,”We’re returning back, sir, we have lost engines,”“Mayday. Mayday. Mayday.” The pilot can be heard saying 12 seconds later.
PIA CEO Arshad Malik and spokesperson Abdul Hafeez both confirmed that the conversation took place.The audio was posted on monitoring website liveatc.net.
Model Zara Abid was also aboard the jet, according to the flight details released by the national flag carrier.
The All Pakistan Drama Facebook page claimed that Zara had survived the crash and was hospitalised in their post.
The Sindh Health Department said that so far three people have survived the plane crash with her name not on the list.“The first is the Bank of Punjab president, the second is a man named Zubair who is under treatment at Civil Hospital Karachi and the third is a woman by name of Tahira who is hospitalised at CMH right now,” Sindh Health department spokesperson Meeran Yousuf confirmed.
In a video message, the model’s brother urged the public not the share false information, adding that,”Nothing has been confirmed till now”.He was speaking to the media outside Karachi’s Jinnah hospital.