A passenger plane with at least 100 people on board has crashed in a residential area in the Pakistani city of Karachi, the country’s civil aviation agency said on Friday.
“We are trying to confirm the number of passengers but initially it is 99 passengers and eight crew members,” said Abdul Sattar Khokhar, the spokesman for the country’s aviation authority.
The flight from the eastern city of Lahore crashed near the Jinnah International Airport in Karachi, the country’s largest city, on Friday afternoon, officials said.
The PK8303 flight was due to land in Karachi at 14:45 local time (09:45 GMT). The Airbus A320 plane was operated by state-run Pakistan International Airlines (PIA).
“Our plane A320 which was coming from Lahore to Karachi … the last words for the pilot were that there is a technical problem and he was told on final approach that he has both runways available to him. But the pilot indicated that he wanted to go around,” PIA CEO Arshad Malik said in a video message released after the crash.
There were no immediate reports on the number of casualties or survivors but a relative of a passenger on board the plane told Al Jazeera she was able to contact him after the crash.
A close relative was on the flight from Lahore that crashed. There are survivors — he is one.
— Zainab Imam (@zainabimam) May 22, 2020
Images shown on national television showed plumes of smoke above homes in a congested residential apartment buildings, with fire trucks en route to the scene of the crash.
Television footage from the scene showed a number of ambulances unable to make progress in the narrow lanes of the residential neighbourhood where the crash took place, as people crowded in towards the site.
Pakistan resumed limited domestic commercial flights last week, after a months-long suspension due to the coronavirus. Flights are operating with reduced capacity to ensure that passengers are sitting with one seat’s space between them in the cabin.
In 2016, a PIA commercial flight crashed in the northern Pakistani region of Chitral, killing all 47 people on board.
Health officials told Al Jazeera that hospitals in the teeming metropolis of 22 million in Pakistan’s south had been put on emergency notice to deal with possible casualties from the crash.
In addition to passengers, multiple homes in the area on fire
It was an @Official_PIA Airbus A320 on a flight from #lahore to #Karachi says @PKAviation. The aircraft is registered AP-BLD and flight number was #PK8303. It took off from Lahore at 1300 & scheduled to land at 1445 pic.twitter.com/qf65wTWD19
— Osama Bin Javaid (@osamabinjavaid) May 22, 2020