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PIA plane crashes in Karachi with over 100 onboard (4th Ld)

Karachi, May 22 (IANS) A Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) plane with more than 100 people onboard crashed in a residential area in Karachi near the city's Jinnah International Airport on Friday, a spokesman for the flag carrier said, but did not confirm any casualties.

PIA flight PK8303 had 99 passengers and eight crew members on board during the time of the incident which took place in the city's densely populated Model Colony area, reports The Express Tribune.

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The crash caused significant damage in the residential area and reportedly destroyed four houses.

“The plane PK 8303 with 99 passengers and eight crew members has crashed,” said Abdullah Hafeez, a spokesman for the national carrier, adding that a rescue operation in the area was underway.

The Express Tribue quoted Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre's executive director, Seemin Jamali as saying that 19 bodies and five injured people have been brought to the hospital.

PIA's Chief Executive Officer Air Marshal Arshad Malik said, following the crash, that the pilot had informed air traffic control (ATC) that there was a technical issue and the pilot decided to go around rather than land.

He added that two runways had been cleared for landing.

An official told The Express Tribune that the A320 Airbus was leased from China, adding that reportedly both engines had failed.

“The plane took off from Lahore at 1 p.m. and was scheduled to land in Karachi at 2.45 p.m.”

To speed up relief and rescue efforts, the Army Urban Search and Rescue Team with special equipment and rescue specialist flown from Rawalpindi through a special C130 flight, the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said in a statement.

Ten fire tenders employed at incident site and have extinguished the fire, it added.

“Military ambulances are busy in rescuing injured and providing necessary medical care.”

Prime Minister Imran Khan has ordered an immediate inquiry into the plane crash.

Director Programming 24 News Ansar Naqvi and Bank of Punjab President Zafar Masood were among the passengers, Dawn news said in a report.

Masood's family has confirmed that he survived the crash.

Sindh Information Minister Nasir Hussain Shah confirmed during a media talk that two passengers had survived and were brought to hospitals in injured condition. Details of other passengers are awaited.

Footage showed plumes of smoke rising from the site of the crash within the congested residential area.

A witness told Dawn news that the plane was on fire in the air before crashing.

In Pakistan's most recent deadly crash, a PIA plane in 2016 burst into flames after one of its two turboprop engines failed while flying from the remote north to Islamabad, killing more than 40 people.

The deadliest air disaster on Pakistani soil was in 2010, when an Airbus A321 operated by private airline Airblue and flying from Karachi crashed into the hills outside Islamabad as it came into land, killing all 152 people on board.

–IANS

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