After a Pakistan International Airlines plane carrying more than 100 people crashed in Karachi, Pakistan, on Friday, dozens are feared dead as emergency responders conduct a rescue mission. The A-320 plane flying from Lahore to Karachi's Jinnah International Airport crashed minutes before it was due to land, officials said. The Pakistani Civil Aviation Authority said the plane was carrying 99 passengers and eight crew members.
While fatalities are still unclear during the developing situation, Karachi Mayor Wasim Akhtar said he expected there were no survivors, the Associated Press reported. Akhtar said that dead bodies and injured people were being recovered from nearby houses damaged in the crash. "At least three houses have been demolished, while around 10 to 12 are reportedly damaged. At least six fire engines are on the spot while more are arriving as per the needs," he said.
A spokesperson for Jinnah Hospital told CNN that at least 11 bodies from the scene of the crash have been brought to that facility. It is unclear if those fatalities involve victims from the ground or the plane. The Pakistan Red Crescent Society has deployed ambulances and emergency response force members to help with a rescue and relief operation at the crash site, the organization said on Twitter, with volunteers helping to recover bodies from the debris. The Pakistani army said it was sending helicopter to the scene to assist with the rescue.
Pakistan International Airlines chairman Arshad Malik said that the plane's pilot reported he was experiencing technical difficulties before the crash. "The last voice we heard of the [c]aptain was [that] we have a technical problem. He said this from final approach, he was told we are ready for landing, both strips are free and you can land but [he] decided to go-round," Malik told CNN. He added that the airline will investigate the issue and called it "a very sad incident."
Footage circulating on social media showed flames and black plumes of smoke rising from a row of houses in Karachi. Debri littered the streets of the densely populated residential area called Model Colony. The government of Sindh, the regional province that includes Karachi, has declared a state of emergency in all major hospitals in the city due to the plane crash.
Flight-tracking service Flightradar24 said the aircraft attempted to land at 9:05 a.m. local time, but the landing was aborted at 275 feet and the plane climbed back to 3,175 feet. The plane's signal was lost at 9:40 a.m. while flying at 525 feet.
Prime Minister Imran Khan wrote in a tweet that he was "shocked and saddened" by the crash. "Immediate inquiry will be instituted," he wrote. "Prayers & condolences go to families of the deceased." Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi tweeted that he was "deeply grieved" over the crash, calling it a "terrible tragedy" and sending his prayers to the families involved.
Domestic flights in Pakistan only recently restarted after being grounded for two months due to the coronavirus pandemic. International flights are not due to restart until May 31.