May 22, 2020 – A Pakistan International Airlines plane flying from Lahore, Pakistan, has crashed into residences in the Model Colony area of Karachi.
The Airbus A320 plane was carrying approximately 99 passengers and eight crew members, according to the Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority. While approaching Jinnah International Airport, the pilot attempted to land the plane multiple times prior to crashing into houses in the residential Model Colony area. Faisal Edhi of the Edhi Foundation informed reporters that so far, 45 bodies have been pulled from the crash site, though it is uncertain whether the victims were passengers of the plane or residents of Model Colony.
It’s also reported that around 30 residents of the damaged houses were hospitalized, mostly with burn wounds. At least three people have survived including the President of the Bank of Punjab, Zafar Masood.
Though the cause of the crash has yet to be determined, Pakistan International Airlines CEO Arshad Malik stated that the pilot had informed traffic control that the plane had experienced technical difficulties. Pakistan’s Dunya News obtained a recording of the traffic control conversation, in which the pilot says they had “lost two engines” followed by multiple calls of “mayday” before the communication ends.
Multiple eyewitnesses told BBC News that they heard people screaming and saw fire and smoke rising from three houses that had collapsed due to the plane. A resident of Model Colony told Ary News that the plane’s wings were on fire, crashing into the rooftops of a number of houses before crash landing.
It is reported that at least 25 houses have been damaged by the plane; at least six fire engines were on scene with more arriving. A Pakistani army spokesperson also said that specialist rescue teams had been flown into a nearby city, and military ambulances were aiding in the rescue operation.
In response to the crash, the government of Sindh which governs Karachi declared a state of emergency in all major Karachi hospitals. Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan expressed sadness and shock over the crash, sending his prayers and condolences to the families of the deceased. He stated that assisting the rescue and relief teams on the ground are a priority, followed by an “immediate inquiry” into the crash.
Shocked & saddened by the PIA crash. Am 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. Prayers & condolences go to families of the deceased.— Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) May 22, 2020
The flight departed only a few days after Pakistan loosened restrictions on domestic commercial flights that were put in place due to the coronavirus pandemic. The crash comes only days before the celebration of Eid-ul-Fitr, marking the end of the month of Ramadan, with many people travelling between cities in anticipation of the holiday.
Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi rajioon. Our prayers are with the victim’s families.