New Delhi: A Pakistan International Airlines flight from Lahore, with 91 passengers and eight crew on board, crashed near the Karachi airport, just a minute before the Airbus A320 was to land this afternoon.
In the final moments before the crash, recorded on a flight tracking website, one of the pilots can be heard telling the Air Traffic Controller that they had lost both the engines, before sending the international distress message, "Mayday, Mayday, Mayday".
The number of casualties in the crash has not been confirmed yet.
The PIA flight PK-8303 went down in a densely populated residential area - Jinnah Garden area near Model Colony in Malir - just short of the Jinnah International Airport. The crash comes just days after Pakistan began allowing commercial flights to resume after planes were grounded due to the lockdown over the coronavirus pandemic.
The wreckage and several houses in the area are on fire, visuals by Pakistan media showed. Plumes of smoke could be seen billowing in the sky as ambulances tried to make their way through.
25 residents of the area, injured in the crash, have been reportedly taken to hospitals. An emergency has been declared in all major hospitals of Karachi.
News agency PTI quoted sources in Pakistan's Civil Aviation Authority as saying that communication with the plane was cut off one minute before its landing.
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan said an immediate inquiry will be instituted in 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.
Pakistan media reported that Pak Army Quick Reaction Force and Pakistan Rangers are at the crash site to assist in relief and rescue efforts, which have been hindered due to the presence of a large crowd and narrow lanes.
Karachi and Lahore are about 1,020 km apart and it takes under two hours for a flight to cover the distance.
In 2016, a Pakistan International Airlines plane burst into flames after one of its two turboprop engines failed while flying from the remote northern to Islamabad, killing more than 40 people.
(With inputs from News Agencies)
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