Published:  03:49 AM, 23 May 2020

Dozens die as Pakistani jet hits homes in Karachi

Dozens die as Pakistani jet hits homes in Karachi Firefighters spray water on the wreckage of a Pakistan International Airlines aircraft after it crashed at a residential area in Karachi, yesterday. -AFP


A Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) passenger plane flying from Lahore has crashed into a residential area of Karachi, killing at least 76 people.

The pilots of flight PK8303, an Airbus A320 carrying 91 passengers and eight crew, were attempting to land at the city's Jinnah International Airport. The plane had attempted one landing but as it went round again lost its engines and issued a mayday call. At least two passengers are confirmed to have survived the crash. One, Muhammad Zubair, has been describing his ordeal, recalling how he lost consciousness then woke up to smoke and screaming.

It has yet to be confirmed but here is what we know so far. Flight PK8303 was approaching Jinnah International Airport at about 14:30 local time (09:30 GMT). It had been given permission to land but the pilots decided to abort and go around for a second attempt.

The reason is not yet known, but one civil aviation official told Reuters the plane may have been unable to lower its undercarriage. Images posted on social media appeared to show scorch marks under both engines, with no undercarriage visible on approach.

Purported audio of the conversation between air traffic control and a pilot for the second attempt was published by Pakistani media outlets, in which the pilot is heard saying the plane has "lost engines". An air traffic controller asks whether it is going to carry out a "belly landing", to which the pilot replies "mayday, mayday, mayday" - the final communication from the plane.

The survivor, Muhammad Zubair, said there were 10-15 minutes between the first attempt at landing and the crash.

"No-one was aware that the plane was about to crash; they were flying the plane in a smooth manner," he said.

Investigators will try to retrieve the so-called black box recorders to help determine the cause. A committee of investigation has already been set up.

PIA said the plane had joined the fleet in 2014 and passed its annual airworthiness inspection last November.

The crash came just days after Pakistan began allowing commercial flights to resume after a coronavirus lockdown.

Pakistanis across the country are preparing to celebrate the end of Ramadan, with many travelling back to their homes in cities and villages.

--- BBC


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