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At least 66 killed as Pakistan International Airlines flight crashes near Karachi airport
Screenshot from video

At least 66 killed as Pakistan International Airlines flight crashes near Karachi airport

India Blooms News Service | @indiablooms | 22 May 2020, 06:50 pm

Karachi/IBNS: At least 66 people died as Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) flight PK-8303 from Lahore, with 91 passengers and eight crew members onboard, crashed near the Karachi Airport just minutes before landing there on Friday afternoon, media reports said.

The air crash happened in a densely populated residential area - Jinnah Garden area near Model Colony in Malir - just a few minutes away from the Jinnah International Airport.

According to Pakistan's Dawn.com, 66 people were confirmed dead while two passengers survived the accident.

Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) spokesperson Abdullah Hafeez told Dawn.com that the A320 Airbus was carrying 91 passengers and 8 crew members from Lahore to Karachi on PK 8303.

Bank of Punjab President Zafar Masud, who was onboard, survived the crash with minor injuries. He has been shifted to a local hospital. 

The other survivor has been identified as Zubair, who received 35 per cent burnt injuries.

It is however unclear that if the deceased include only the people onboard or some people from the nearby areas affected by the crash.

In the final moments, the pilots reportedly told the Air Traffic Controller that they had lost both the engines, before sending the international distress message, "Mayday, Mayday, Mayday".

Eyewitnesses told Dawn that the aircraft appeared to attempt to land two or three times before crashing in a residential area near the airport.

As per visuals from Pakistani media, several nearby houses were engulfed in fire due to the crash.

Videos from the crash site obtained by Dawn.com showed bodies buried underneath rubble with Pakistan Rangers and Sindh police carried out rescue operations.

Plumes of smoke could be seen billowing into the sky. As many as 25 residents of the area have been injured and were taken to the hospitals.

Expressing shock, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan announced that an immediate enquiry will be initiated to find the cause of the crash.

"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 ground as this is the priority right now. Immediate inquiry will be instituted. Prayers & condolences go to families of the deceased," he tweeted.

He later thanked world leaders for expressing solidarity with his country.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi also expressed grief over the loss of lives in the air crash.

"Deeply saddened by the loss of life due to a plane crash in Pakistan. Our condolences to the families of the deceased, and wishing speedy recovery to those injured," he tweeted.

According to Pakistani media, the relief works by Pak Army Quick Reaction Force and Pakistan Rangers were much hindered due to the presence of a large crowd and narrow lanes.

It takes a flight 2 hours to cover the 1,020 km distance between Karachi and Lahore.