Many feared dead in Karachi plane crash

Cheryl Sanders
May 23, 2020

A jetliner carrying 98 people crashed Friday in a residential area near the main airport in Pakistan's southern port city of Karachi, with at least two people surviving and many feared dead, according to authorities and local media.

Footage from the scene shows debris scattered over the crash scene while local residents attempt to look for survivors. In the final moments before the crash, recorded on a flight tracking website, one of the pilots can be heard telling the Air Traffic Controller that they had lost both the engines, before sending the worldwide distress message, "Mayday, Mayday, Mayday".

A controller informed the pilot that he appeared to be veering left, suggesting he was off course.

Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani also offered his honest commiserations to the people and the government of Pakistan, saying that his "heart went out to the families of those who died in the crash".

Speaking to the media, PIA CEO Arshad Malik stated that the last message received from the pilots was that there was a technical problem.

"He was told from the final approach that both the runways were ready where he can land, but the pilot decided that he wanted to do (a) go-round ... It is a very tragic incident", he added.

A spokesperson for the state-run Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) Abdul Sattar told the newspaper Dawn that the flight was carrying 90 passengers and 8 crew members and had been due to land at Jinnah international airport from the eastern city of Lahore.

"Sir - mayday, mayday, mayday, mayday Pakistan 8303", the pilot said before the transmission ended.

Model Colony is poor area of the city, and is heavily congested.

Karachi Mayor Wasim Akhtar initially said all aboard died, but two civil aviation officials later said there were survivors.

Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan said he was "shocked and saddened" by the crash, promising an immediate investigation.

Airbus did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the crash.

The Pakistani army said its quick reaction force and paramilitary troops have reached the site for relief and rescue efforts alongside civil administration. "Our condolences to the families of the deceased, and wishing speedy recovery to those injured", he wrote on Twitter.

PIA said the plane had joined the fleet in 2014 and passed its annual airworthiness inspection last November.

PIA's chief engineer signed a separate certificate April 28 saying all maintenance had been conducted on the plane and that "the aircraft is fully airworthy and meets all the safety" standards.

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