Many people are feared dead after a Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) plane with 107 people on board crashed into a densely populated residential area near the Jinnah International Airport in Karachi on Friday, according to officials.
Flight PK-303 from Lahore was about to land in Karachi when it crashed at the Jinnah Garden area near Model Colony in Malir, just a minute before its landing, they said.
The PIA Airbus A320 carrying 99 passengers and eight crew members has crash landed into the Jinnah housing society located near the airport, a spokesperson of the national airline said.
“The captain informed the air traffic tower he having problems with the landing gear before disappearing from the radar,” he said.
The flight PK-803 was coming from Lahore to Karachi after the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) allowed limited reception of domestic flights just few days back after weeks of lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Television channels showed several houses and cars damaged in the society where the aircraft crashed.
Rescue and police officials confirmed that at least four bodies have been recovered from damaged houses so far while several injured people were also being taken to hospitals.
The Pakistan Army and the Air Force have sent their teams for carrying out rescue and relief operations, the CAA said.
The PIA aircraft was flown by Captain Sajjad Gul.
A resident of the colony who witnessed the crash told Ary News channel that the aircraft had fire coming from its wings which crashed into rooftops of some houses before it crash landed.
“It is too early to say how many people have died in this tragic accident but… it will be a miracle if the passengers and crew members have survived this horrible landing,” a senior police official said on condition of anonymity.
This is the first major aircraft crash in Pakistan after December 7, 2016 when a PIA ATR-42 aircraft from Chitral to Islamabad crashed midway. The crash claimed the lives of all 48 passengers and crew, including singer-cum-evangelist Junaid Jamshed.
“All my prayers are with the families. We will continue to provide information in a transparent manner,” PIA spokesperson Abdullah Hafeez was quoted as saying by the Dawn newspaper.
Footage showed plumes of smoke rising from the site of the crash.
Ambulances and rescue officials arrived at the scene to help residents.
A statement by the Pakistan Army’s media wing Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said that Army Quick Reaction Force and Sindh Pakistan Rangers reached the spot for carrying out rescue and relief operations alongside civil administration.
Minister of Health and Population Welfare has declared emergency in all major hospitals of Karachi after the incident, Dawn news quoted Meeran Yousuf, the media coordinator to the Sindh health minister, as saying.