Passenger due to fly on crashed PIA flight saved from disaster by system error

Syed Mustafa Ahmed, who should have been on PIA flight PK-8303, seen here in Lahore during a coronavirus rescue and relief effort on May 8, 2020. (Photo courtesy: Syed Mustafa Ahmed)
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Updated 23 May 2020

Passenger due to fly on crashed PIA flight saved from disaster by system error

  • Syed Mustafa Ahmed needed to be in Karachi before a coronavirus curfew kicked in

LAHORE: A passenger who was scheduled to be on Pakistan International Airlines flight PK-8303, which crashed in Karachi on Friday, was prevented from finalizing his booking due to a system error.

Syed Mustafa Ahmed tried three times on Thursday to confirm payment online for his seat 13-A on the flight from Lahore to Karachi, but he was thwarted by a glitch in the online system.

Ahmed told Arab News via telephone he had to be Karachi on Friday before the 5 p.m. coronavirus curfew kicked in and cut off transport links and flight PK-8303 was his best chance.

“I booked myself on seat 13-A, but when the payment option came, there was a system error. I tried three times, but in the last step, the website just wouldn’t let me pay and confirm my booking,” Ahmed said.

A frustrated Ahmed called a friend who worked for a different airline to help him sort the issue out.

“I have a friend who works in Serene Airlines, and I told him I need to take this flight. I asked him for his help with the booking. We tried again, but it just wasn’t happening.”

The A320 Airbus PIA flight Ahmed should have been on crashed into a Karachi neighborhood moments before its scheduled landing with an estimated 98 people on board. 

So far, there has been no confirmation on the number of casualties.


Schools reopen as Singapore eases lockdown restrictions

Updated 1 min 30 sec ago

Schools reopen as Singapore eases lockdown restrictions

  • School students were urged to maintain a safe distance as they lined up to return to class
  • Singapore has said it will ease restrictions gradually

SINGAPORE: With temperatures checked, masks fitted, and hand sanitizers at the ready, many Singapore children returned to school on Tuesday after a novel coronavirus lockdown of nearly two months.
Across the island, the hum of the morning rush hour resumed while staff at schools urged students to maintain a safe distance as they lined up to return to class.
With one of the highest coronavirus tallies in Asia, Singapore has said it will ease restrictions gradually, with the registry of marriages and some businesses, including pet salons, also reopening on Tuesday.
“You have to restart your normal life at some point,” said Harsha Yavagal, who was sending his boys aged five and 12 back to school.
“Schools are taking all possible measures to cope with the virus,” he said.
Studies in some European countries have shown reopening schools has not led to a rise in coronavirus infections, while other studies have shown fewer cases of the disease among children compared with adults.
But Singapore is not taking any chances.
At one secondary school, Reuters observed the precision of the “new normal” morning routine.
After a bell, students sang the national anthem through face masks that are required by law. The teacher then asked everyone in the class to put thermometers in their mouths and he went desk-to-desk noting temperatures.
The students then cleaned their thermometers with an alcohol wipe and, one-by-one, dropped the wipes in a bin.
Recesses will be staggered and children will have to sit apart at the canteen, the teacher said, then asked students to respond to an online poll via their smartphones about how they felt about returning to school.
The results appeared on a screen behind him: more than half said they were happy with a further third “very happy.”
Singapore has recorded more than 35,000 coronavirus cases and 24 deaths. Most cases have been among migrant workers living in dormitories.