Pakistani plane crashes in residential area

Above: An injured victim being evacuated by rescue workers from the site in a Karachi neighbourhood after a Pakistan International Airlines aircraft crashed into homes while on approach to the city's airport yesterday. There were no estimates of casu
Above: An injured victim being evacuated by rescue workers from the site in a Karachi neighbourhood after a Pakistan International Airlines aircraft crashed into homes while on approach to the city's airport yesterday. There were no estimates of casualties on the ground in the area where the plane crashed. Right: Rescue workers inspecting the still smouldering crash site, a few kilometres short of the airport.PHOTOS: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
Above: An injured victim being evacuated by rescue workers from the site in a Karachi neighbourhood after a Pakistan International Airlines aircraft crashed into homes while on approach to the city's airport yesterday. There were no estimates of casu
Above: An injured victim being evacuated by rescue workers from the site in a Karachi neighbourhood after a Pakistan International Airlines aircraft crashed into homes while on approach to the city's airport yesterday. There were no estimates of casualties on the ground in the area where the plane crashed. Right: Rescue workers inspecting the still smouldering crash site, a few kilometres short of the airport.PHOTOS: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Many feared dead as airliner with 99 on board smashes into houses in Karachi

KARACHI • An Airbus plane with 99 people on board crashed into a residential area of the Pakistani city of Karachi yesterday while on approach to the airport, with at least one passenger surviving but many others feared dead, officials said.

Smoke billowed from the scene where the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) flight came down, some roofs had caved in, and debris lay scattered in streets as ambulances rushed through crowds.

At least one passenger on Flight PK8303, a banker, survived and spoke to officials in hospital, provincial government spokesman Abdur Rashid Channa said. "Thank you so much. God has been merciful," the passenger said, according to the government statement.

Dr Seemin Jamali, executive director at the nearby Jinnah Hospital, said 17 bodies and six wounded people had been brought in. There were no estimates of casualties on the ground in the area where the plane crashed.

"The aeroplane first hit a mobile tower and crashed over houses," witness Shakeel Ahmed said near the site, a few kilometres short of the airport.

The Airbus A-320 was flying from the eastern city of Lahore to Karachi in the south just as Pakistan was resuming domestic flights in the wake of curbs over the coronavirus pandemic, according to the aircraft tracking website Flightradar24.

The pilot told air traffic controllers the plane had lost engine power, according to liveatc.net, which has released aircraft recordings in the past.

"We are returning back, sir, we have lost engines," a man was heard saying in a recording released by the website. Reuters could not authenticate the recording and there was no immediate comment on it from the airline, Airbus or the aviation authority.

"The last we heard from the pilot was that he had some technical problem," the state carrier's spokesman Abdullah H. Khan said in a video statement. "He was told from the final approach that both the runways were ready where he could land, but the pilot decided that he wanted to do (a) go-round... It is a very tragic incident."

One senior civil aviation official told Reuters it appeared the plane had been unable to lower its wheels for landing due to a technical fault, but it was too early to determine the cause. Aviation safety experts say air crashes typically have multiple causes and warn that it is far too early to understand them within the first hours or days.

STRAITS TIMES GRAPHICS

Army and rescue services rushed to the area, which appeared to be densely populated. Footage showed cars on fire.

In Pakistan's most recent deadly crash, 47 people died when a PIA jet smashed into a mountainside in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province in 2016. The country's worst plane disaster was in 2010, when an AirBlue flight crashed near Islamabad, killing 152 people.

Prime Minister Imran Khan tweeted: "Shocked & saddened by the PIA crash. Am in touch with PIA CEO Arshad Malik, who has left for Karachi & with the rescue & relief teams on the ground as this is the priority right now. Immediate inquiry will be instituted. Prayers & condolences go to families of the deceased."

TECHNICAL PROBLEMS?

He was told from the final approach that both the runways were ready where he could land, but the pilot decided that he wanted to do (a) go-round.

PAKISTAN INTERNATIONAL AIRLINES SPOKESMAN ABDULLAH H. KHAN, noting the pilot said he was experiencing technical difficulties.

The Airbus first flew in 2004 and was fitted with engines built by CFM International, co-owned by General Electric and France's Safran, according to Flightradar24. It was on its sixth flight after returning to service following a widespread airline industry grounding in March over the coronavirus crisis, the website added.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 23, 2020, with the headline 'Pakistani plane crashes in residential area'. Print Edition | Subscribe