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97 Confirmed Dead, Two Survivors In Crash Of Pakistani Passenger Jet In Karachi

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Ninety-seven people have been confirmed dead in the crash of a Pakistani International Airlines (PIA) plane into a residential area in the southern port city of Karachi.

Provincial health officials said on May 23 that two people survived the crash of flight PK8303, which was carrying 91 passengers and eight crew.

All passengers and crew have been accounted for, and the bodies of those killed had been recovered from the crash site, the Sindh Health Ministry said. Nineteen of the bodies have been identified.

There were reports that people had been killed on the ground, but it was unclear how many and whether their bodies had been recovered.

The Airbus A320 traveling from the eastern city of Lahore crashed on May 22 on a second approach to the city’s Jinnah International Airport.

One of the survivors, Muhammad Zubair, told Geo TV the plane came down for one landing, briefly touched down, then took off again.

About 10 minutes later the pilot announced to passengers he was going to make a second attempt, then crashed on approach to the runway, Zubair said according to Geo TV.

The plane was flying smoothly and no one was aware it was about to crash, the BBC quoted Zubair as saying.

The plane had developed a technical fault, according to Interior Minister Ijaz Ahmad Shah, who said the pilot issued a mayday call after the aircraft lost an engine.

The airline’s CEO, Arshad Mahmood Malik, idendified one survivor as the president of the Bank of Punjab, Zafar Masud.

The bank said he had suffered fractures but was “conscious and responding well.”

Malik told a news conference that Pakistan’s independent safety investigations agency would probe the crash.

Rescue workers search the wreckage in Karachi on May 22.

Rescue workers search the wreckage in Karachi on May 22.

Airbus said in a statement that the plane had first entered service in 2004 and was acquired by PIA a decade later and had logged around 47,100 flight hours. It said it had no confirmed information about the accident.

The crash occurred as Muslims prepare to celebrate Eid al-Fitr this weekend – the breaking of the Ramadan fast. Many Pakistanis are travelling back to their homes in cities and villages for the holiday.

It also came days after Pakistan began allowing commercial flights to resume following a coronavirus lockdown.

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan said he was “shocked and saddened” by the crash, tweeting that he was in touch with Malik.

He also said he was grateful for the condolences sent by world leaders over the loss of “precious lives.”

“The people of Pakistan value this support and solidarity in our hour of grief,” he wrote on Twitter.

With reporting by Reuters, AFP, and the BBC

A reporter for Geo TV told RFE/RL that they could see a fire on the plane while it was still in the air, before it crashed into buildings on the ground.

Witnesses said the jet appeared to attempt to land two or three times before going down.

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan said he was “shocked and saddened” by the tragedy and promised an “immediate” investigation.

According to flight-tracking website Flightradar24.com, the Airbus A320 was 15 years old.

The crash occurred as Muslims are preparing to celebrate Eid al-Fitr this weekend — the breaking of the Ramadan fast, with many Pakistanis travelling back to their homes in cities and villages.

It also came days after Pakistan began allowing commercial flights to resume following a coronavirus lockdown.

Pakistan has been the scene of frequent military and civilian plane crashes over the years.

In 2016, a PIA plane burst into flames while travelling from northern Pakistan to Islamabad, killing 47 people.

With reporting by the BBC, AFP, Reuters, Dawn, and Dunya News

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