ISLAMABAD—A Pakistan International Airlines domestic flight crashed as it approached Karachi airport with at least 98 passengers and crew aboard after the pilot said the plane had lost power.
The pilot radioed in an emergency before the crash, the airline said.
“We have lost engines…mayday, mayday, mayday,” the pilot told air-traffic control just before the plane went down, according to a voice recording played on local television channels and confirmed as authentic by the airline.
The plane, an
A320, had come from the eastern city of Lahore and was due to land in the southern city of Karachi at around 3 p.m. local time. It went down in a residential area near Jinnah International Airport, Karachi.
Ghulam Sarwar Khan, the aviation minister, said the flight would have been carrying passengers going to see their loved ones for the Muslim festival of Eid, which falls this weekend.
Arshad Malik, chief executive of PIA, said the plane was on its final approach to the airport and cleared by air-traffic control to land. But the pilot decided to circle around for another attempt to land.
It was on that second approach that the plane lost height before crashing into buildings near the airport, video footage run by local channels shows.
Announcing an inquiry, Mr. Malik declined to speculate about the cause before the investigation’s findings are made. He said that planes are allowed to take off only after undergoing technical safety checks.
The plane came down on the roofs of residential buildings on the edge of the airport, breaking up the aircraft.
At least two passengers survived and are in a stable condition, said Murtaza Wahab, a spokesman for the provincial government.
One of those men, Mohammad Zubair, suffered burns to his hands and feet, but was well enough to give media interviews from a hospital bed.
A Pakistan International Airlines flight from Lahore to Karachi crashed while trying to land
Jinnah International Airport
Source: Google Earth (image)
In televised interviews he said that on the first approach to land there were some shudders to the plane and the aircraft flew back upward. After some minutes, the pilot again announced that he would land. He said in the interviews that he was never aware of a problem.
The next thing that Mr. Zubair remembers, he said in the interviews, was fire all around and people screaming. He saw light coming in from one spot in the fuselage, undid his seat belt and scrambled toward it, escaping the wreckage, he said.
Imran Narejo, of the Pakistan Airlines Pilots’ Association, cited what he said appeared to be a failure of the landing gear on the first approach and engine failure when the plane attempted to land a second time.
A spokesman for Airbus SE said that “we are aware of the reports about an accident involving a passenger aircraft in Pakistan. At this time we have no further details.”
The second known survivor, Zafar Masud, is president of a local bank, Bank of Punjab. Local television footage showed residents carrying Mr. Masud, who appeared to be conscious, away from the site. His family, after visiting him at the hospital, said he was talking and had a fractured elbow. Bank of Punjab said that he had “sustained injuries but is out of danger.”
At the scene of the crash, thick smoke rose into the air, fires burned on the ground and rubble from buildings and plane parts was scattered in the streets, according to video shown on local television channels. The roofs of some buildings had collapsed.
The plane went down in a middle-class neighborhood filled with low-rise apartment buildings and tightly packed houses amid narrow streets.
Faisal Edhi, who heads a charity that operates ambulances, said rescue workers pulled out bodies burned beyond recognition from the wreckage. Mr. Edhi said that the narrow streets hampered getting ambulances and firetrucks to the scene and that some residents had also suffered injuries, including burns.
None of the buildings hit by the plane fully collapsed, and so far no deaths have been reported beyond those on the plane, said the PIA chief executive, Mr. Malik.
The aircraft, an earlier generation of Airbus’s popular A320 narrow-body jet, was powered by engines manufactured by CFM International, a joint venture between
General Electric Co.
the plane maker said.
The aircraft first entered service in 2004. It has been in operation with Pakistan International Airlines since 2014, Airbus said.
A spokesman for CFM said it was aware of reports of the crash and is “closely monitoring the situation.”
Airbus said it was providing technical assistance to investigators in Pakistan and France under international air-accident investigation rules.
—Benjamin Katz in London contributed to this article.
Corrections & Amplifications
The jet had been in operation with Pakistan International Airlines since 2014. An earlier version of this article incorrectly said the plane had been in operation with the airline since 2004 (Corrected on May 22)
Write to Saeed Shah at email@example.com
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