May 22, 2020 14:53 UTC
  •  Many feared dead as plane carrying 98 crashes in Pakistan

A Pakistani plane carrying 98 people has crashed in a residential area in Pakistan’s southern city of Karachi, with many feared dead.

The Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) Flight PK 8303 crashed on Friday, sending plumes of thick black smoke over the city.

The aircraft, an Airbus A320, was en route from Lahore to Karachi when it went down.

PIA spokesman Abdullah Hafeez said there had been 91 passengers and seven crew on board.

“It is too early to comment on the cause of the crash,” Hafeez said. But earlier, the spokesman had said the pilot had reported “some technical problem” in his last communication with traffic control.

“He was told from the final approach that both the runways were ready where he can land, but the pilot decided that he wanted to do (a) go-round… It is a very tragic incident,” he said.

The Pakistani military said its quick reaction force and paramilitary troops had been deployed to the scene to join civil administration bodies for rescue operations.

“At the moment, we have the view that there will be no survivors from the plane itself but it is not confirmed,” Karachi’s Mayor Waseem Akhtar told Reuters.

Prime Minister Imran Khan said he was “shocked & saddened by the PIA crash,” adding that he was “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,” Khan tweeted.

Iran’s Foreign Ministry also offered condolences to Pakistan over the incident. Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi expressed sympathy with Pakistan’s government, nation, and the families of the victims.

The crash comes only days after commercial flights resumed in Pakistan following the grounding of planes during the coronavirus lockdown.