98 passengers, crew perish as Pakistan plane crashes

A Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) flight from Lahore, with 91 passengers and seven-crew on board, Friday, crashed near the Karachi Airport, just a minute before the Airbus A320 was to land.

The PIA flight PK-8303 reportedly went down in a densely populated residential area, Jinnah Garden area near Model Colony in Malir, just short of the Jinnah International Airport.

In the final moments before the crash, recorded on a flight tracking website, one of the pilots could be heard telling the Air Traffic Controller that they had lost both engines, before sending the international distress message, “Mayday, Mayday, Mayday.”

The wreckage and several houses in the area were on fire, visuals by Pakistan media showed, even as plumes of smoke could be seen billowing in the sky as ambulances tried to make their way through.

While the exact number of casualties was not yet to be confirmed, news agency Reuters reported that one of the passenger, a banker, did survived the crash and said at the hospital, “Thank you so much. God has been merciful.”

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.

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan had tweeted: “Shocked and saddened by the PIA crash. I’m in touch with PIA CEO Arshad Malik, who has left for Karachi and with the rescue and relief teams on ground as this is the priority right now. Immediate inquiry will be instituted. Prayers and condolences go to families of the deceased.”

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