Pakistan Plane Crash

Volunteers cover the body of a plane crash victim at the site of the crash in Karachi, Pakistan, Friday, May 22. An aviation official says a passenger plane belonging to state-run Pakistan International Airlines carrying more than 100 passengers and crew has crashed near the southern port city of Karachi.

KARACHI, Pakistan — A passenger plane with 98 people on board crashed in a crowded neighborhood on the edge of the international airport near Pakistan’s port city of Karachi on Friday after what appeared to be an engine failure during landing.

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. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief media.

Local TV stations reported that three people sitting in the front row of the aircraft 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.

The airport in the northeastern city of Lahore, where the flight originated, initially said there were 107 people on board. The civil aviation authority later said the plane carried 91 passengers and seven crew members. Spokesman Abdul Sattar Kokhar said the discrepancy was due to confusion in the chaotic aftermath of the crash.

Police wearing protective masks struggled to clear away crowds to allow a firetruck and an ambulance to move through the narrow streets toward 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 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 the 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 on the edge of the airport, known as Model Colony, is poor and heavily congested.