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97 dead, 2 survivors from Pakistan plane crash: Ministry

Filed on May 23, 2020
Pakistan plane crash, PIA, UAE, PIA

(Photo: Reuters)

The rescue operation following Friday's crash ended in the early hours of Saturday.

Ninety-seven people were killed and two survived when a passenger plane crashed into homes in the southern city of Karachi, health officials said Saturday, giving what they said was their final toll for those on the aircraft.

The bodies of the passengers and crew killed had been recovered from the site near the city's airport, the Sindh Health Ministry said.

The rescue operation following Friday's crash ended in the early hours of Saturday.

Technical fault

PIA confirmed there were 91 passengers and seven crew on board the flight, which lost contact with air traffic control just after 2:30 pm (1.30pm, UAE) travelling from Lahore to Karachi.

"It was an (Airbus) A320 which is one of the safest planes. Technically, operationally everything was in place," Malik said, adding the plane was bought by the airline in 2014.

The pilot, Sajjad Gull, who according to an official release was the senior most A320 pilot with extensive flight experience, complained of a problem after making his second approach to the runway, before air traffic control lost contact with him.

PIA promised a full independent investigation.

Airbus later 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.

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

Residents near the scene said their walls shook before a big explosion erupted as the aircraft slammed into their neighbourhood.

"I was coming from the mosque when I saw the plane tilting on one side. The engines' sounds were quite weird. It was so low that the walls of my house were trembling," said 14-year-old witness Hassan.

Karachi resident Mudassar Ali said he "heard a big bang and woke up to people calling for the fire brigade".

'Prayers & condolences'

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan said he was "shocked and saddened" by the crash, tweeting that he was in touch with the state airline's chief executive.

"Prayers & condolences go to families of the deceased," he wrote on Twitter.

The Pakistan military said security forces were deployed to the neighbourhood and helicopters were used to survey the damage, while offering condolences over the "loss of precious lives."

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tweeted that his "prayers go out to those killed and injured, and their families," and added that the United States "stands with Pakistan during this difficult time."

Commercial flights resumed only days ago, after planes were grounded during a lockdown over the coronavirus pandemic.

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