Pakistan passenger plane crashes into residential neighborhood, more than 100 feared dead

Pakistan passenger plane crashes into residential neighborhood, more than 100 feared dead
(Getty Images)

More than a hundred people are feared dead after a passenger jet crashed in a residential neighborhood on Friday, May 22, in Karachi, Pakistan, with videos posted online showing fire and smoke billowing out of the area of impact. A spokesman for Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), the country's flagship carrier, confirmed to Reuters that flight PK 8303 had gone down carrying 99 passengers and eight crew. 

A source at the airport told CBS News that the pilot had informed the control tower that one of the plane's two engines had failed. The control tower then told the pilot that two runways were clear for landing, but then lost communication with the crew. The plane crashed a short while later. 

Abdul Sattar Khokar, a spokesman for Pakistan's aviation authority, confirmed that the plane had been flying to Karachi from Lahore, with witnesses saying they saw it trying to land at least a couple of times before going down. While there has not yet been any official word on the number of casualties, Karachi Mayor Wasim Akhtar was quoted telling reporters that all those who had been aboard the airliner had died in the crash. Pakistan's Interior Ministry said there were no survivors as well, though it was unclear if they were referring to people on the ground or in the plane at the time of the crash.

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan tweeted his condolences and wrote, "Shocked and saddened by the PIA crash. Immediate inquiry will be instituted. Prayers and condolences go to families of the deceased."

A PIA spokesperson, Abdullah Hafeez, cautioned that it was still too early to tell. "Saying anything right now would be premature. Our crew is trained to handle emergency landings. All my prayers are with the families. We will continue to provide information in a transparent manner," he said. The casualty count could exceed the number of those aboard the plane, with CBS News' Maria Usman revealing that the plane, an Airbus A320, had crashed into a residential neighborhood called Jinnah Gardens which was located close to the Karachi Airport. Local media reported that at least 17 bodies had been transported to an area hospital.

Rescue efforts are currently underway and a video shared online by Pakistan's GEO TV showed an emergency crew trying to reach the scene of the crash through the rubble. Flames were still visible in the background. Other videos, likely uploaded by those close to the area, showed large columns of black smoke rising between tightly packed buildings. "I heard a big bang and woke up to people calling for the fire brigade," one resident told the Daily Mail.

"I was coming from the mosque when I saw the plane tilting on one side. The engines' sounds were quite weird. It was so low that the walls of my house were trembling," another said.

The crash comes just days after Pakistan allowed commercial flights to resume after they had been grounded because of a lockdown enforced due to the coronavirus pandemic. Millions across the country are rearing to celebrate the end of Ramadan and the beginning of Eid al-Fitr, and are currently traveling back to their homes in cities and villages.

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