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At Karachi Hospital, Doctors Work Feverishly With Scarce Supplies

September 06, 1986|From the Washington Post

KARACHI, Pakistan — The body of a victim lay in the doorway to the emergency unit of Jinnah Hospital and others lay in the hallways on broken, wooden benches as doctors struggled to cope with the carnage from Pan Am Flight 73.

As the sounds of sirens filled the sultry late night air, doctors worked feverishly on the wounded who poured into Karachi's central hospital.

The usual shortage of drugs in Pakistani government hospitals affected the Pan Am passengers at Jinnah Hospital. Doctors there complained that they were running out of antibiotics.

Dr. Qamar Ahmad said he had been waiting 20 minutes for supplies of glucose and insulin. Pointing at bleeding passengers, he said, "We do not even have enough beds for them."

Terrorist Gets a Bed

But one man who got a bed was one of the terrorists. The man, apparently in his late 20s, had a bullet wound on the right side of his chest, and his bed was surrounded by armed police.

A doctor attending him said, "I have no hope for him."

As they waited for treatment, wounded passengers described events on the jetliner. "The hijackers went mad" as the power in the aircraft went off, said Saveeda Budd, a New York-bound passenger from Bombay who was hit on the right arm by a bullet during the shoot-out. She said the hijackers told all the passengers to move to the middle of the plane.

As "we were still moving," she said, "they sprayed bullets and threw hand bombs. . . . I got faint."

Karati Virgino, an Italian who was traveling to Frankfurt, West Germany, with his family, had two bullet wounds in his left leg.

"The terrorists were well-composed and relaxed from the takeover until the final shoot-out, but the power failure made them crazy. They shouted in Arabic, 'God is great,' and opened fire," Virgino said.

3 Wore Blue Uniforms

A Bombay businessman who identified himself as Derakatila and a West German passenger named Dirk Vondran said there were four hijackers and that three of them wore blue uniforms.

Back at the airport, the scene was total confusion. The ambulances pouring in from all over the city were not allowed to reach the aircraft before crack army units took the bodies of two dead hijackers and arrested two others, one of whom was critically injured.

Abdus Sattar Edhi, whose charity organization ran 25 ambulances from the airport to the hospital Friday night, said, "Most of the 14 died of . . . loss of blood."

He said none of his ambulances took less than 25 minutes to cover the 10 miles to the airport. Edhi said that at one point two of his ambulances, carrying injured people, collided on the main road, injuring both drivers.

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