Gulf Air Flight 771

Gulf Air Flight 771 was a flight from Karachi, Pakistan, to Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. On 23 September 1983, while the Boeing 737-2P6 was on approach to Abu Dhabi International Airport, a bomb exploded in the baggage compartment. The plane crashed in the desert near Mina Jebel Ali between Abu Dhabi and Dubai in the UAE. All five crew members and 107 passengers died. Most of the dead were Pakistani nationals, many returning to jobs in Abu Dhabi and Bahrain after spending the Eid al Adha holiday with their families in Pakistan.

he investigation was carried out by the American National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), and they released a 400-page report on their findings, which was not immediately published in the Persian Gulf region. The report was revealed in September 1987 by British politician Sir Dudley Smith, under pressure from the parents of British stewardess Lyn Farthing who perished in the crash. Others among the crew on board included British stewardess Sally Anne Townsend of Peterborough and Bahraini steward Hashim Sayed Abdullah.

The report included a description of the last moments in the cockpit, including a description of Omani captain Saoud Al Kindy praying as the plane nose-dived into the desert.Also on the flight deck was Bahraini co-pilot Khazal Al Qadi. The report mentioned that everything on board the flight was perfectly normal and voice transcripts showed the crew chatting among themselves. One asked the other if he was on duty the next day, to which he replied “No, I’ve got a day off tomorrow”. That was followed by a sudden interruption and the recording showed the pilots making a frantic attempt to control the plane.

The report indicated a bomb in the baggage hold as the primary cause of the accident, due to the following factors:

A passenger who checked in baggage at Karachi but never boarded the plane.
The nature of injuries to passengers who were seated above the baggage hold.
A sudden interruption to an otherwise normally operating flight.
Data obtained from the aircraft’s flight data recorder.

The bomb was apparently planted by the Abu Nidal organization, to convince Saudi Arabia to pay protection money to Nidal so as to avoid attacks on their soil.

Death certificates issued for the passengers on board showed the cause of death as asphyxiation.

As of August 2017, Gulf Air still uses flight number 771 for their scheduled service between Islamabad and Bahrain.

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