BREAKING: Commercial Plane With Over 100 People On Board Crashes

A passenger plane with nearly 100 people on board has crashed in a residential area in the Pakistani city of Karachi, the country’s civil aviation agency said on Friday.

The Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) plane was close to landing when it came down among houses, sending plumes of smoke into the air that could be seen from some distance away.

PIA spokesman Abdullah Hafeez said there were 91 passengers and seven crew on board the flight, which lost contact with air traffic control just after 2:30pm (09:30 GMT).

“It is too early to comment on the cause of the crash,” he told AFP news agency.

Abdul Sattar Khokhar, the spokesman for the country’s aviation authority, said the Airbus A320 was travelling from Lahore to Karachi, the country’s largest city.

Flight PK8303 was due to land in Karachi at 14:45 local time (09:45 GMT).

The Pakistan military said security forces had been deployed to the area and helicopters were being used to survey the damage and help ongoing rescue operations.

“Our plane A320 which was coming from Lahore to Karachi … the last words for the pilot were that there is a technical problem and he was told on final approach that he has both runways available to him. But the pilot indicated that he wanted to go around,” PIA CEO Arshad Malik said in a video message released after the crash.

Sindh provincial health minister Azra Pechucho said at least 11 bodies and six wounded people had been taken to Karachi’s main government hospital – but it was unclear if they were passengers or people on the ground.

“Eleven dead bodies have been brought here and six wounded have been brought here,” she said, speaking at Karachi’s Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC). “Of the six [wounded], four are stable and two are burns cases.”

READ ALSO: Plane Carrying Coronavirus Supplies Crashes, Killing All On Board

“We are doing DNA testing of the dead bodies so that they can be identified and they can be given to their families.”

Earlier, a relative of a passenger on board the plane told Al Jazeera she was able to contact him after the crash.

Images shown on national television showed plumes of smoke above congested residential apartment buildings, with fire trucks en route to the scene of the crash.

Television footage from the scene showed a number of ambulances unable to make progress in the narrow lanes of the residential neighbourhood where the crash took place, as people crowded in towards the site.

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan said he was “shocked and saddened” by the crash, tweeting that he was in touch with the state airline’s chief executive. “Prayers & condolences go to families of the deceased,” said Khan.

The disaster comes as Pakistanis across the country are preparing to celebrate the end of Ramadan and the beginning of Eid al-Fitr, with many travelling back to their homes in cities and villages.

Pakistan resumed limited domestic commercial flights last week, after a months-long suspension due to the coronavirus. Flights are operating with reduced capacity to ensure that passengers are sitting with one seat’s space between them in cabins.

In 2016, a PIA commercial flight crashed in the northern Pakistani region of Chitral, killing all 47 people on board.

PIA, one of the world’s leading airlines until the 1970s, has in recent years experienced frequent cancellations, delays and financial troubles.



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here