At least 82 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, nearly a week after the Covid-19-induced air travel restrictions were lifted by the government.
Flight PK-8303 from Lahore crashed at the Jinnah Garden area near Model Colony in Malir minutes before its landing in Karachi, they said.
The PIA Airbus A320 carrying 91 passengers and eight crew members has crash-landed into the Jinnah Housing Society located near the airport, a spokesperson of the national carrier said.
Thick black smoke rose from the accident scene in the Model Colony area.
Sindh Health Minister Azra Pechuho told the media late Friday night that 82 bodies have been recovered from the site of the crash so far.
It is, however, unclear if the deceased were all on board the flight or include residents of the area where the crash took place.She said there are two survivors including President of the Bank of Punjab Zafar Masood. He called up his mother to inform her of his well-being.
“We don’t know exactly how many are injured as yet as we were already in an emergency situation due to COVID-19 (outbreak)…,” she said.
Faisal Edhi of the Edhi Welfare Trust said that around 25 to 30 residents whose houses were damaged by the plane have also been taken to the hospital, mostly with burn wounds.
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. “The first priority is to rescue the people. The main hurdle is narrow streets and presence of ordinary people who gathered at the place after the crash but they have been dispersed,” the minister said.
Television footage showed rescue crews combing through debris strewn across the streets of the district – 3 km north-east of the airport – where a number of houses have been destroyed.
According to a PIA official, the captain informed the air traffic control that he was having problems with the landing gear before the aircraft disappeared from the radar.
The cause of the crash is yet to be confirmed. PIA chief executive Air Vice Marshal Arshad Malik said the pilot had told traffic control that the plane was experiencing “technical difficulties”.
Malik rejected reports that the plane had problems even before flying. Talking to the media, he said the aircraft was completely safe and sound.
He said all checks and procedures were done and “technically as well as administratively everything was in place and perfect”.
The plane with 99 people on board came for landing but just before l