Several people were feared dead after a Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) carrying 90 passengers and eight crew members crashed in a residential area near the Karachi Airport on Friday, Dawn reported.
The flight PK 8303 from Lahore was about to land in Karachi when it crashed at the Jinnah Garden area near Model Colony, Dawn reported. According to PIA chief executive officer Arshad Malik, the pilot had informed the control room of facing a technical issue and then decided to go around rather than land even though two runways were ready for landing.
Expressing shock over the incident, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan said rescue and relief teams were on the ground and an immediate inquiry would be instituted. He also gave his condolences to the families of the deceased. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi also offered his condolences to the bereaved families of the deceased and wished a speedy recovery to those injured.
Footages shared on social media show smoke billowing from the site of the crash. Ambulances and rescue officials have been pressed into service to help residents. According to reports, several houses and cars have been damaged in the area where the aircraft crashed. Videos from the crash site, as per Dawn, showed bodies buried underneath rubble and residents gathering in streets littered with debris.
According to a recording posted on monitoring website liveatc.net, the pilot sent a Mayday and told controllers that the aircraft had lost power from both its engines on its second attempt to land, news agency Reuters reported. After the aircraft reportedly called off an earlier attempt to land and went around for a second attempt, a controller radioed the pilot that he appeared to be turning left, suggesting he was off-course. The pilot replied, “We are returning back, sir, we have lost engines,” and the controller cleared the plane to land on either of Karachi airport’s two West-Southwest-facing runways.
Twelve seconds later the pilot called “Mayday, Mayday, Mayday” and was again cleared to use either runway. There was no further communication from the aircraft, according to the audio from liveatc.net, a respected source for in-flight recordings.
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.
A resident of the colony, who witnessed the crash, told Ary News channel that the aircraft had fire coming from its wings which crashed into rooftops of some houses before it crash-landed.
This is the first major aircraft crash in Pakistan after December 7, 2016 when a PIA ATR-42 aircraft from Chitral to Islamabad crashed midway. The crash claimed the lives of all 48 passengers and crew.