Jetliner carrying 98 crashes in Pakistan; at least 2 survive
Fri, 22 May 2020 12:06:47 GMT
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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. They also found at least 57 bodies 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 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.
Pakistan’s civil aviation authority said the plane had 91 passengers and a crew of seven. The A320 can carry up to 180 passengers, depending on how its cabin is configured.
At least two people aboard survived, according to the health department, revising an earlier statement that three were alive.
Local TV stations showed video of a man on a stretcher they identified as Zafar Masood, the head of the Bank of Punjab.
PIA chairman Arshad Malik later confirmed that Mr. 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.
Mr. Malik announced an investigation into the crash, adding that the aircraft was in good working order.
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.
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.