Pak­istan jet with 98 aboard crashes into neigh­bor­hood

At least two sur­vivors have been found, of­fi­cials say

Baltimore Sun - - NATION & WORLD - By Adil Jawad

KARACHI, Pak­istan — A jet­liner car­ry­ing 98 peo­ple crashed Fri­day in a crowded neigh­bor­hood near the air­port in Pak­istan’s port city of Karachi af­ter an ap­par­ent en­gine fail­ure dur­ing land­ing. Of­fi­cials said there were two sur­vivors from the plane. At least 57 bodies were found in the wreck­age.

It was un­known how many peo­ple on the ground were hurt as the Pak­istan In­ter­na­tional Air­lines jet, an Air­bus A320, plowed into an al­ley and de­stroyed at least five houses.

The pi­lot was heard trans­mit­ting a may­day to the tower shortly be­fore the crash of Flight 8303, which was fly­ing from La­hore to Karachi and car­ry­ing many trav­el­ing for the Mus­lim hol­i­day of Eid al-Fitr.

Video on so­cial me­dia ap­peared to show the jet fly­ing low with flames shoot­ing from one of its en­gines.

The plane went down Fri­day af­ter­noon north­east of Jin­nah In­ter­na­tional Air­port in the poor and con­gested res­i­den­tial area known as Model Colony be­tween houses that were 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, and a por­ta­ble morgue was set up.

The Sindh pro­vin­cial health depart­ment said it had re­cov­ered 57 bodies.

Pak­istan’s civil avi­a­tion au­thor­ity said the plane had 91 pas­sen­gers and a crew of seven.

At least two peo­ple aboard sur­vived, ac­cord­ing to the Health Depart­ment, re­vis­ing an ear­lier state­ment that three were alive.

Lo­cal TVs­ta­tions showed video of a man on a stretcher they iden­ti­fied as Za­far Ma­sood, the head of the Bank of Pun­jab. Malik later con­firmed that Ma­sood sur­vived the crash.

The Sindh pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment press depart­ment later dis­trib­uted a photo de­pict­ing a sec­ond sur­vivor iden­ti­fied as Mo­ham­mad Zubair, re­cov­er­ing in a Karachi hospi­tal.

At least three peo­ple on the ground were in­jured.

Malik an­nounced an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the crash.

Pak­istan had re­sumed do­mes­tic flights ear­lier this week ahead of Eid-al Fitr, which marks the end of the holy month of Ra­madan. Pak­istan has been in a coun­try­wide lock­down since mid-March be­cause of the coro­n­avirus, and the air­line has been us­ing so­cial dis­tanc­ing guide­lines on its flights by leav­ing every other seat va­cant. The A320 can carry up to 180 pas­sen­gers.

South­ern Sindh prov­ince, of which Karachi is the cap­i­tal, is the epi­cen­ter of the virus in­fec­tions in Pak­istan.

A trans­mis­sion of the pi­lot’s fi­nal ex­change with air traf­fic con­trol, posted on the web­site LiveATC.net, in­di­cated he had failed to land and was cir­cling to make an­other at­tempt.

“We are pro­ceed­ing di­rect, sir — we have lost en­gine,” a pi­lot said.

“Con­firm your at­tempt on belly,” the air traf­fic con­troller said, of­fer­ing a run­way.

“Sir, may­day, may­day, may­day, may­day Pak­istan 8303,” the pi­lot said be­fore the trans­mis­sion ended.

FA­REED KHAN/AP

Vol­un­teers trans­port an in­jured per­son from the crash site Fri­day in Karachi, Pak­istan.

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