At least 45 people were killed when a Pakistan International Airlines plane with 99 people on board crashed into a densely populated residential area near the Jinnah International Airport here on Friday, officials said, days after the COVID-19-induced travel restrictions were lifted.
Flight PK-8303 from Lahore was about to land in Karachi when it crashed at the Jinnah Garden area near Model Colony in Malir, just a minute before its landing, they said.
The PIA Airbus A320 carrying 91 passengers and eight crew members has crashed landed into the Jinnah housing society located near the airport, a spokesperson of the national carrier said.
Earlier, a PIA spokesperson and many media reports said that there were 107 people on board the aircraft.
Faisal Edhi of the Edhi welfare trust told reporters that so far 45 bodies have been recovered.
“Our rescue workers have taken out 45 bodies from the remains of the aircraft,” he said.
The PIA Airbus A-320 has crashed landed into the Jinnah housing society located near the airport, a spokesperson of the national airline said.
“The captain informed the air traffic tower he was having problems with the landing gear before disappearing from the radar,” he said.
The PIA aircraft was flown by Captain Sajjad Gul.
A resident of the colony who witnessed the crash told the local media that the aircraft had fire coming from its wings which crashed into rooftops of some houses before it crash landed.
A Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) plane with above 100 people onboard crashed in a residential area in Karachi near the city’s Jinnah International Airport on Friday.#PIAcrash
Read full story: https://t.co/RqsU7jx3jA pic.twitter.com/zN3hnnSM3x
— Outlook Magazine (@Outlookindia) May 22, 2020
Footage showed plumes of smoke rising from the site of the crash.
Ambulances and rescue officials arrived at the scene to help residents.
The aircraft wings during the crash landing hit the houses in the residential colony before crashing down.
“At least 25 houses have been damaged in this incident,” Edhi said.
Sindh Health Minister Azra Pechuho said that 34 bodies have so far been shifted to hospitals.
The Civil Aviation Authority sources said that its communication with the plane was cut off one minute before its landing.
Several houses have been damaged in the area where the aircraft crashed.
President Arif Alvi expressed grief and sorrow over the loss of lives in the plane crash incident.
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan also expressed shock and grief over the plane crash and said an immediate inquiry would be launched.
Shocked & saddened by the PIA crash. Am in touch with PIA CEO Arshad Malik, who has left for Karachi & with the rescue & relief teams on ground as this is the priority right now. Immediate inquiry will be instituted. Prayers & condolences go to families of the deceased.
— Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) May 22, 2020
“Shocked & saddened by the PIA crash. Am in touch with PIA CEO Arshad Malik, who has left for Karachi & with the rescue & relief teams on ground as this is the priority right now. Immediate inquiry will be instituted. Prayers & condolences go to families of the deceased,” Khan tweeted.
A statement by the Pakistan Army’s media wing Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said that Army Quick Reaction Force and Sindh Pakistan Rangers reached the spot for carrying out rescue and relief operations alongside civil administration.
Minister of Health and Population Welfare has declared emergency in all major hospitals of Karachi after the incident, Dawn news quoted Meeran Yousuf, the media coordinator to the Sindh health minister, as saying.
Sindh’s Minister of Health and Population Welfare has declared emergency in all major hospitals of Karachi due to the plane crash.
Pakistan had resumed commercial passenger air travel on May 16 after a nationwide lockdown due to Covid-19 outbreak.
Last year, a PIA aircraft skidded off the runway while landing at Gilgit airport.
On December 6, 2016, PIA flight PK-661 carrying 48 passengers and crew had crashed on the way to Islamabad from Chitral, killing all on board.
(With PTI and IANS Inputs)