Fri, 05 Jun 2020

Pakistani officials say at least 57 people were killed and dozens more are feared dead after a Pakistani International Airlines (PIA) aircraft with 99 people on board crashed into a residential area in the southern port city of Karachi after experiencing technical problems.

Flight PK8303, carrying 91 passengers and eight crew, crashed on May 22 on approach to the city's Jinnah International Airport. The Airbus A320 was traveling from the eastern city of Lahore.

The health department in Sindh Province, of which Karachi is the capital, said rescuers had recovered 57 bodies.

It was unclear if the dead were all passengers or included residents living in the area of the crash site.

Officials said there were at least two survivors from the plane. They were reported to be in stable condition.

It was unknown how many people on the ground were injured, with at least five houses destroyed.

Rescue workers search the wreckage in Karachi on May 22.

As night fell several hours after the crash, rescuers were searching the rubble of the damaged buildings and the wreckage for more bodies and survivors.

PIA Chief Executive Arshad Malik told a news conference that finding all the dead could take two to three days.

Malik said Pakistan's independent safety investigations agency would probe the crash, whose cause is yet to be confirmed, and that the aircraft was in good working order.

The provincial chief minister declared an emergency in all of Karachi's hospitals after the tragedy.

Photos and video posted on social media showed plumes of black smoke rising over a residential neighborhood not far from Karachi's Jinnah International Airport.

A reporter for Geo TV told RFE/RL that they could see a fire on the plane while it was still in the air, before it crashed into buildings on the ground.

Witnesses said the jet appeared to attempt to land two or three times before going down.

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan said he was 'shocked and saddened' by the tragedy and promised an 'immediate' investigation.

According to flight-tracking website, the Airbus A320 was 15 years old.

The crash occurred as Muslims are preparing to celebrate Eid al-Fitr this weekend -- the breaking of the Ramadan fast, with many Pakistanis travelling back to their homes in cities and villages.

It also came days after Pakistan began allowing commercial flights to resume following a coronavirus lockdown.

Pakistan has been the scene of frequent military and civilian plane crashes over the years.

In 2016, a PIA plane burst into flames while travelling from northern Pakistan to Islamabad, killing 47 people.

With reporting by the BBC, AFP, Reuters, and Dawn

Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Republished with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036

Sign up for US News

a daily newsletter full of things to discuss over drinks.and the great thing is that it's on the house!