**Update: 05/22/20 @ 15:40 UTC – Updated with the latest details**
A Pakistan International Airlines plane has reportedly crashed in Karachi. The Airbus A320 aircraft, which was said to be carrying 90 passengers and eight crew, was on route from Lahore to Jinnah International Airport. The A320 crashed in a residential area, destroying at least five or six homes.
Five homes destroyed
The Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) Airbus A320, registered AP-BLD, was operating flight PK8303 from Lahore to Karachi this afternoon. The aircraft took off on time at 13:00 local for the one hour and 45-minute flight to Karachi.
While it appears that most of the flight proceeded without incident, the aircraft seems to have run into trouble on approach to Karachi. The Airbus A320 crashed into a residential area near Karachi’s Model Colony district. Business Recorder reports that five homes and some vehicles have been destroyed in the crash.
Lahore-Karachi bound PIA plane crashes near Malir Cantt. pic.twitter.com/4BbV6A5YR8
— Fazil Jamili (@faziljamili) May 22, 2020Advertisement:
Update #PIA Incident:
Pak Army Aviation helicopters flown for damage assessment and rescue efforts.
Urban Search & Rescue Teams are being sent on site for rescue efforts.
— DG ISPR (@OfficialDGISPR) May 22, 2020
— Javed Nayab Laghari (@JavedNLaghari) May 22, 2020
Footage shared on social media shows destroyed buildings, plumes of smoke and homes engulfed in flames. The BBC reports that emergency services are in attendance, and a statement by Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said Army Quick Reaction Force and Sindh Pakistan Rangers have arrived on site to assist in rescue efforts.
The latest report from Sky News suggests there may have been as many as 107 people on board in total. Two are rumored to have escaped with their lives. One is reported to be Bank of Punjab President Zafar Masud who was reportedly pulled from the wreckage by local people.
Bank of Punjab President Zafar Masud being rescued by local heroes after the PIA aircraft crash in Karachi pic.twitter.com/SJuWFBGF5y
— Murtaza Ali Shah (@MurtazaViews) May 22, 2020
However, there are also reports of casualties on the ground. Seemin Jamali, the executive director of nearby Jinnah Hospital, told Sky News 17 bodies and six injured people had been brought to the facility so far.
Footage has emerged of other people being rescued from the scene. However, it’s not known if these were passengers on the plane or individuals injured on the ground.
— ᴜᴍᴀʀ ʀᴀꜱʜɪᴅ (@Listenumar) May 22, 2020
AP-BLD is a 15-year-old Airbus A320-200, leased from GECAS by PIA since October 2014. It has previously flown for China Eastern Airlines since its manufacture in 2004. Gulf News states that passengers included 51 males, 31 females and nine children. An eyewitness told the publication that an engine was on fire prior to the crash, saying,
“I saw the PIA plane with one engine on fire and suddenly there was blast and the aircraft fell on houses in the area. At least six to eight houses are on fire while rescue teams are struggle to make way through narrow streets to rescue people.”
Witness Shakeel Ahmed told Sky News,
“The aeroplane first hit a mobile tower and crashed over houses.”
A PIA spokesperson, Abdullah H Khan, told the publication,
“The last we heard from the pilot was that he had some technical problem. It is a very tragic incident.”
Pakistan uçağının düştüğü yer.
Uçak Airbus A-320 model.
Kaza kurtarma çalışmaları devam ediyor. pic.twitter.com/pg532pdoKU
— Cevher 🇹🇷 (@cevher0006) May 22, 2020
Heart Breaking visuals from the crash site Karachi 💔
— GHAZI_8 (@MastanMumbia) May 22, 2020
Initial reports suggest the pilot had tried to land, but was advised by the tower he was off course. After performing a go-around, he radioed in to inform control that the aircraft had a technical problem.
A recording of the radio conversation has been shared on local Pakistani TV. In it, the pilot can be heard saying, “I have lost one engine, May Day, May Day.” The tower then informs him that both runways are available for landing. Shortly after, contact is lost.
Dawn reports that at the orders of Prime Minister Imran Khan, all emergency service resources have been mobilized to attend the scene. The evacuation of the area is in progress. Chief of Air Staff, Pakistan Air Force, Marshal Mujahid Anwar Khan has expressed his condolences, saying,
“PAF stands by PIA at this difficult time and extends all-out support in Rescue Operation.”
As would be expected, the Civil Aviation Authority and the government have stressed the need for a full investigation. Federal Aviation Minister Ghulam Sarwar is reported by Dawn to have ordered the Aircraft Accident Investigation Board to conduct an “immediate inquiry” into the crash.
Lahore Se Karachi Aanay Wala PIA Ka Tayyara (Flight PK-303) Karachi Airport Ke Qareeb Gir Ker Tabah pic.twitter.com/UDD2anJihD
— Aziz Ali Bijarani🇵🇰 (@SuchNewsFast) May 22, 2020
Today was the first day of the holidays in Pakistan for Eid, and many people were traveling to visit friends and families. The horrific scenes suggest the aircraft had plowed through homes in the city on its way to the ground.
Terribly, terribly sad, the first day of public holidays for Eid in Pakistan, with many people travelling to visit families… More than 100 people onboard the flight which crashed shortly before it was due to land in Karachi… pic.twitter.com/vl9fRZ5cGc
— Sana Javed (@ImSanajaved) May 22, 2020
PIA’s Lahore-Karachi flight PK-8303 crashed on a residential area near Karachi airport a short while ago. Fire fighters trying to control fire in an affected house👇🏼 🔥 ✈️ #planecrash #BREAKING pic.twitter.com/LEg1roPjol
— Danyal Gilani (@DanyalGilani) May 22, 2020
It’s likely to be some time before the full extent of the situation is known, and certainly before the cause of the crash is verified.
Simple Flying’s thoughts are with all those affected by today’s tragic events.