A passenger plane carrying dozens of people crashed into a residential area of Pakistan’s largest city, Karachi, early Friday, minutes before it was due to land.
Flight PK-8303 from Lahore was about to land in Karachi when it crashed at the Jinnah Garden area near Model Colony in Malir, just a minute before its landing, they said.
The PIA Airbus A320 carrying 91 passengers and eight crew members has crashed landed into the Jinnah housing society located near the airport, a spokesperson of the national carrier said.
Earlier, a PIA spokesperson and many media reports said that there were 107 people on board the aircraft.
Information on survivors evolved as details emerged about the crash. Police in protective masks struggled to clear away crowds amid the smoke and dust so ambulances and firetrucks could move through the crash site. As darkness settled over the crash site, flood lights illuminated the wreckage, where crews were still recovering bodies. A portable morgue was set up.
Faisal Edhi of the Edhi welfare trust told reporters that so far 45 bodies have been recovered.
“Our rescue workers have taken out 45 bodies from the remains of the aircraft,” he said.
“The captain informed the air traffic tower he was having problems with the landing gear before disappearing from the radar,” he said.
The PIA aircraft was flown by Captain Sajjad Gul.
A resident of the colony who witnessed the crash told the local media that the aircraft had fire coming from its wings which crashed into rooftops of some houses before it crash landed.
Karachi Mayor Wasim Akhtar said that dead bodies and injured people were being recovered from nearby houses damaged in the crash.
“At least three houses have been demolished, while around 10 to 12 are reportedly damaged. At least six fire engines are on the spot while more are arriving as per the needs,” he said.
Two deceased passengers have already been identified by their DNA and returned to family members, said Meeran Yousaf, a Health Department spokesman for Sindh Province.
Yousaf also said three passengers survived and that an three additional people on the ground were injured.
One of the survivors, province officials said, was Zafar Masud, the head of the Bank of Punjab, whom local TV stations said was seen being carried on a stretcher. They reported that at least 11 bodies were recovered from the crash site and six people were injured.
It was not immediately clear whether the casualties were passengers or people on the ground because the aircraft crashed into a crowded neighborhood on the edge of the airport. Mayor Wasim Akhtar said at least five or six houses were destroyed in the crash.
The residential area on the edge of the airport, known as Model Colony, is poor and heavily congested.
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan said he was “shocked & saddened” by the crash in a statement posted to Twitter Friday.
“Immediate inquiry will be instituted. Prayers & condolences go to families of the deceased,” the statement continued.
Major General Babar Iftikhar, the chief media officer for Pakistan’s Armed Forces, said in a tweet that the the army’s chief of staff had volunteered its full assistance to the civil administration’s rescue efforts.