Dozens killed as Pakistani passenger plane crashes near Karachi

By Adil Jawad, Associated Press

A passenger plane with 107 people on board has crashed in a crowded neighbourhood on the edge of the international airport near Pakistan's southern port city of Karachi after what appeared to be an engine failure during landing.

Karachi mayor Wasim Akhtar said at least five or six houses were destroyed in the crash of the domestic flight operated by Pakistan International Airlines.

He said all those on board died, but two civil aviation officials later said that at least two people survived the crash.

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Rescue workers search for victims at the site after a Pakistan International Airlines aircraft crashed at a residential area in Karachi on May 22, 2020. - A Pakistani passenger plane with nearly 100 people on board crashed into a residential area of the southern city of Karachi on May 22. (Photo by Asif HASSAN / AFP) (Photo by ASIF HASSAN/AFP via Getty Images)
KARACHI, PAKISTAN, MAY 22: A weeping Pakistani man is being comfort at the site of a passenger plane crash in Karachi, Pakistan, May 22, 2020. A Pakistani passenger plane with at least 100 people on board crashed in a residential area in the Pakistani city of Karachi on Friday, the country's civil aviation agency said. (Photo by H.KHAN/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
KARACHI, PAKISTAN - MAY 22: Wreckage of a passenger plane crash in a residential area near an airport in Karachi, Pakistan on May 22, 2020. A Pakistani passenger plane with at least 100 people on board crashed in a residential area in the Pakistani city of Karachi on Friday, the country's civil aviation agency said. At least eight people were killed as a Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) plane with 107 passengers onboard crashed in southern port city of Karachi on Friday, officials and local media reported. (Photo by Sabir Mazhar/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
KARACHI, PAKISTAN - MAY 22: Wreckage of a passenger plane crash in a residential area near an airport in Karachi, Pakistan on May 22, 2020. A Pakistani passenger plane with at least 100 people on board crashed in a residential area in the Pakistani city of Karachi on Friday, the country's civil aviation agency said. At least eight people were killed as a Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) plane with 107 passengers onboard crashed in southern port city of Karachi on Friday, officials and local media reported. (Photo by Sabir Mazhar/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
KARACHI, PAKISTAN - MAY 22: Wreckage of a passenger plane crash in a residential area near an airport in Karachi, Pakistan on May 22, 2020. A Pakistani passenger plane with at least 100 people on board crashed in a residential area in the Pakistani city of Karachi on Friday, the country's civil aviation agency said. At least eight people were killed as a Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) plane with 107 passengers onboard crashed in southern port city of Karachi on Friday, officials and local media reported. (Photo by Sabir Mazhar/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
KARACHI, PAKISTAN - MAY 22: Wreckage of a passenger plane crash in a residential area near an airport in Karachi, Pakistan on May 22, 2020. A Pakistani passenger plane with at least 100 people on board crashed in a residential area in the Pakistani city of Karachi on Friday, the country's civil aviation agency said. At least eight people were killed as a Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) plane with 107 passengers onboard crashed in southern port city of Karachi on Friday, officials and local media reported. (Photo by Sabir Mazhar/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
A firefighter sprays water on the wreckage of a Pakistan International Airlines aircraft after it crashed in a residential area in Karachi on May 22, 2020. - A Pakistani plane with nearly 100 people on board crashed into a residential area in the southern city of Karachi on May 22, killing several people on the ground. (Photo by Rizwan TABASSUM / AFP) (Photo by RIZWAN TABASSUM/AFP via Getty Images)
A man checks a part of a Pakistan International Airlines aircraft after it crashed in a residential area in Karachi on May 22, 2020. - A Pakistani plane with nearly 100 people on board crashed into a residential area in the southern city of Karachi on May 22, killing several people on the ground. (Photo by Rizwan TABASSUM / AFP) (Photo by RIZWAN TABASSUM/AFP via Getty Images)
KARACHI, PAKISTAN - MAY 22: Wreckage of a passenger plane crash in a residential area near an airport in Karachi, Pakistan on May 22, 2020. A Pakistani passenger plane with at least 100 people on board crashed in a residential area in the Pakistani city of Karachi on Friday, the country's civil aviation agency said. At least eight people were killed as a Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) plane with 107 passengers onboard crashed in southern port city of Karachi on Friday, officials and local media reported. (Photo by Sabir Mazhar/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
Rescue workers search for victims at the site after a Pakistan International Airlines aircraft crashed at a residential area in Karachi on May 22, 2020. - A Pakistani passenger plane with nearly 100 people on board crashed into a residential area of the southern city of Karachi on May 22. (Photo by Asif HASSAN / AFP) (Photo by ASIF HASSAN/AFP via Getty Images)
KARACHI, PAKISTAN - MAY 22: Wreckage of a passenger plane crash in a residential area near an airport in Karachi, Pakistan on May 22, 2020. A Pakistani passenger plane with at least 100 people on board crashed in a residential area in the Pakistani city of Karachi on Friday, the country's civil aviation agency said. At least eight people were killed as a Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) plane with 107 passengers onboard crashed in southern port city of Karachi on Friday, officials and local media reported. (Photo by Sabir Mazhar/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
Rescue workers search for victims at the site after a Pakistan International Airlines aircraft crashed at a residential area in Karachi on May 22, 2020. - A Pakistani passenger plane with nearly 100 people on board crashed into a residential area of the southern city of Karachi on May 22. (Photo by Asif HASSAN / AFP) (Photo by ASIF HASSAN/AFP via Getty Images)
Rescue workers arrive at the site after a Pakistan International Airlines aircraft crashed at a residential area in Karachi on May 22, 2020. - A Pakistani passenger plane with nearly 100 people on board crashed into a residential area of the southern city of Karachi on May 22. (Photo by Asif HASSAN / AFP) (Photo by ASIF HASSAN/AFP via Getty Images)
Rescue workers search for victims at the site after a Pakistan International Airlines aircraft crashed at a residential area in Karachi on May 22, 2020. - A Pakistani passenger plane with nearly 100 people on board crashed into a residential area of the southern city of Karachi on May 22. (Photo by Asif HASSAN / AFP) (Photo by ASIF HASSAN/AFP via Getty Images)
KARACHI, PAKISTAN, MAY 22: Pakistani security and rescue personnel are seen at the site of a passenger plane crash in Karachi, Pakistan, May 22, 2020. A Pakistani passenger plane with at least 100 people on board crashed in a residential area in the Pakistani city of Karachi on Friday, the country's civil aviation agency said. (Photo by H.KHAN/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
KARACHI, PAKISTAN, MAY 22: Ambulances are 11 - seen at the site of a passenger plane crash in Karachi, Pakistan, May 22, 2020. A Pakistani passenger plane with at least 100 people on board crashed in a residential area in the Pakistani city of Karachi on Friday, the country's civil aviation agency said. (Photo by H.KHAN/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
KARACHI, PAKISTAN, MAY 22: Pakistani security and rescue personnel are seen at the site of a passenger plane crash in Karachi, Pakistan, May 22, 2020. A Pakistani passenger plane with at least 100 people on board crashed in a residential area in the Pakistani city of Karachi on Friday, the country's civil aviation agency said. (Photo by H.KHAN/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
KARACHI, PAKISTAN, MAY 22: Pakistani people arrive at the site of a passenger plane crash in Karachi, Pakistan, May 22, 2020. A Pakistani passenger plane with at least 100 people on board crashed in a residential area in the Pakistani city of Karachi on Friday, the country's civil aviation agency said. (Photo by H.KHAN/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
KARACHI, PAKISTAN, MAY 22: Pakistani security officials are seen at the site of a passenger plane crash in Karachi, Pakistan, May 22, 2020. A Pakistani passenger plane with at least 100 people on board crashed in a residential area in the Pakistani city of Karachi on Friday, the country's civil aviation agency said. (Photo by H.KHAN/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
TOPSHOT - EDITORS NOTE: Graphic content / Rescue workers evacuate an injured victim from the site after a Pakistan International Airlines aircraft crashed in a residential neighbourhood in Karachi on May 22, 2020. - A Pakistan passenger plane with more than 100 people believed to be on board crashed in the southern city of Karachi on May 22, the country's aviation authority said. (Photo by Asif HASSAN / AFP) (Photo by ASIF HASSAN/AFP via Getty Images)
EDITORS NOTE: Graphic content / Rescue workers cover the body of a victim they recovered from the rubbles after a Pakistan International Airlines flight crashed in a residential neighbourhood in Karachi on May 22, 2020. - A Pakistan passenger plane with more than 100 people believed to be on board crashed in the southern city of Karachi on May 22, the country's aviation authority said. (Photo by Asif HASSAN / AFP) (Photo by ASIF HASSAN/AFP via Getty Images)
Rescue workers move a body from the site after a Pakistan International Airlines aircraft after crashed at a residential area in Karachi on May 22, 2020. - A Pakistan passenger plane with more than 100 people believed to be on board crashed in the southern city of Karachi on May 22, the country's aviation authority said. (Photo by Asif HASSAN / AFP) (Photo by ASIF HASSAN/AFP via Getty Images)
Rescue workers gather at the site after a Pakistan International Airlines flight crashed in a residential neighbourhood in Karachi on May 22, 2020. - A Pakistan passenger plane with more than 100 people believed to be on board crashed in the southern city of Karachi on May 22, the country's aviation authority said. (Photo by Asif HASSAN / AFP) (Photo by ASIF HASSAN/AFP via Getty Images)
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Local TV stations reported that three people sitting in the front row of the plane survived and aired footage of a man on a stretcher they identified as Zafar Masood, the head of the Bank of Punjab.

They reported that at least 11 bodies were recovered from the crash site and six people were injured. It was not immediately clear if the casualties were passengers.

Police wearing protective masks struggled to clear away crowds to allow a fire engine and an ambulance to move through the narrow streets towards the crash site, the air filled with dust and smoke. Police and soldiers cordoned off the area.

A transmission of the pilot's final exchange with air traffic control, posted on the website LiveATC.net, indicated he had failed to land and was circling around to make another attempt.

"We are proceeding direct, sir — we have lost engine," a pilot said.

"Confirm your attempt on belly," the air traffic controller said, offering a runway.

"Sir – mayday, mayday, mayday, mayday Pakistan 8303," the pilot said before the transmission ended.

Pakistan Plane Crash
Rescue work in Karachi (Fareed Khan/AP)

The aircraft arriving from the eastern city of Lahore was carrying 99 passengers and eight crew members, said Abdul Sattar Kokhar of Pakistan's civil aviation authority.

Pakistan had resumed domestic flights earlier this week ahead of the Eid-al Fitr holiday marking the end of the Islamic fasting month of Ramadan.

Pakistan has been in a countrywide lockdown since mid-March to try to stem the spread of coronavirus.

Witnesses said the Airbus A320 appeared to attempt to land two or three times before crashing in a residential area near Jinnah International Airport. The residential area, known as Model Colony, is poor and densely populated.

A resident, Abdul Rahman, said he saw the aircraft circle at least three times, appearing to try to land before it crashed into several houses.

Video on social media appeared to show the aircraft flying low over a residential area with flames shooting from one of its engines.

Prime minister Imran Khan tweeted: "Shocked & saddened by the PIA crash... Immediate inquiry will be instituted. Prayers & condolences go to families of the deceased."

Airworthiness documents showed the plane last received a government check on November 1. PIA's chief engineer signed a separate certificate on April 28 saying all maintenance had been conducted. It said the aircraft was "fully airworthy and meets all the safety" standards.

Ownership records for the Airbus A320 showed China Eastern Airlines flew the plane from 2004 until 2014. The plane then entered PIA's fleet, leased from GE Capital Aviation Services.

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