PLANE CRASH IN PAKISTAN CLAIMS 98 LIVES
A Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) plane carrying 98 people has crashed in a residential area in the city, the mayor of Karachi has said.
Local reports indicate the state-run airline's Airbus A320 was travelling from Lahore.
The scene of the crash took place in Fakhr-e-Alam.
The State carrier said ‘’flight PK 8303 had crashed with 91 passengers and 7 crew members on board, though civil.’’
"The last we heard from the pilot was that he has some technical problem," PIA spokesman Abdullah H Khan said in a video statement. "It is a very tragic incident."
It is feared that there may be more casualties as the plane came down on houses in the Model Colony area in the city.
Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan tweeted: "Shocked & saddened by the PIA crash Immediate inquiry will be instituted. Prayers & condolences go to families of the deceased."
A spokesperson for the Pakistan Armed Forces tweeted that helicopters were being used in the search and rescue effort and that paramilitary troops had reached the site, alongside civil administration.
Local TV station Geo showed crowds near the scene which appeared to be a densely populated area and ambulances trying to make their way through. It also showed black smoke billowing above buildings.
Footage taken from the scene showed a woman crying as she was helped to safety by another woman and one man being helped by a passer-by as he limped through the cordon.
Witnesses said the aircraft appeared to attempt to land two or three times before crashing near Jinnah International Airport.
A senior civil aviation official told the Reuters news agency it appeared the plane was unable to open its wheels due to a technical fault prior to landing, but it was too early to determine the cause.
The residential area on the edge of the airport known as Model Colony is a poor area and heavily congested.
A resident of the area, Abdul Rahman, said he saw the aircraft circle at least three times, appearing to try to land at the airport before it crashed into several houses.
The flight typically takes an hour and a half to travel from the north eastern city of Lahore to Karachi.
Airworthiness documents showed the plane last received a government check on 1 November, 2019.
The disaster comes as Pakistanis across the country are preparing to celebrate the end of Ramadan and the beginning of Eid al-Fitr, with many travelling back to their homes in cities and villages.