KARACHI -UNS- At least 66 were killed and dozens others wounded after a Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) plane crashed with nearly 100 people on board in Karachi on Friday, according to said Spokesperson for the Sindh Health Department, with dozens more feared dead.
The Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) plane was close to landing when it came down among houses, sparking an explosion and killing several people on the ground.
The national carrier s flight PK-8303 took off from Lahore Allama Iqbal International Airport and crashed in Model Colony area in Malir, approximately 4 kilometers away from the airport.
The plane came to rest about 2:39pm in a narrow alley in the poor and congested residential area known as Model Colony between houses smashed by its wings. Police in protective masks struggled to clear away crowds amid the smoke and dust so ambulances and firetrucks could reach the crash site.
As darkness fell, crews worked under floodlights to recover bodies and a portable morgue was set up. Two passengers miraculously survived, said Meeran Yousaf, Sindh provincial Health Department spokeswoman.
According to witnesses, four houses have been damaged in the incident. Five dead bodies have also been retrieved.
Army, Rangers and Police units have arrived at the scene. Emergency has been declared at Jinnah Hospital.
Speaking to Dunya News, PIA spokesperson confirmed the plane crash. He said information is being collected at the moment. Ninety nine passengers and six crew members along with two captains were onboard the plane.
It was an Airbus 320 which has capacity to carry around 180 passengers, however, number of passengers were kept at 50% capacity limit to ensure social distancing measures.
The crash occurred just days after the country began allowing commercial flights to resume after planes were grounded during a lockdown over the coronavirus pandemic.
Pakistan has a chequered aviation safety record, with frequent plane and helicopter crashes over the years.
In 2016, a Pakistan International Airlines plane burst into flames after one of its two turboprop engines failed while flying from the remote northern to Islamabad, killing more than 40 people.
The crash comes as Pakistanis across the country are preparing to celebrate the end of Ramadan and the beginning of Muslim holiday Eid al-Fitr, with many travelling back to their homes in cities and villages.
According to the PIA officials, passengers included 51 male, 31 female and nine children. Chairman Punjab Bank Zafar Masood, senior journalist Ansar Naqvi and model Zara Abid were also travelling in the same flight.
A resident told Gulf News that the aircraft came dangerously before crashing. “It hit a house first and then crashed. We do not yet how many people have been killed on ground,” said Shoaib Chaudhry. He said that area has been cordoned off for the resuce operation.
Chaudhry further said that the crash site is densley populated with mostly two to three storey houses. “Thick black smoke is billowing from the spot and some area is also on fire. Some houses have also damaged,” he added.
The pilot of Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) flight PK 8303 is heard saying he has lost both engines and then “Mayday, Mayday, Mayday,” the international distress message in the final moments of the conversation with the air-traffic controllers
A PIA official said that in the last conversation with the control tower, the pilot talked about technical problem including the loss of both the engines.
A recording of conversation between the airport control tower and the pilot just before the crash confirmed engine failure. “I have lost one engine, May Day, May Day,” said the pilot. The control tower informed the pilot that both the runways were available for landing.” Then the tower lost the contact.
The rescuers have recovered the black box of the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) flight PK 8303 which crashed into a residential area of Karachi, with many feared dead.
According to sources, the plane s black box, which contains cockpit audio recordings and technical flight data, has been recovered by investigators.
Sources said that the black box has been handed over Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).