Pakistan jet with 98 aboard crashes into neighborhood
At least two survivors have been found, officials say
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.
Volunteers transport an injured person from the crash site Friday in Karachi, Pakistan.