22 May, 2020

Airbus A320 of Pakistan International Airlines crashed into a residential area of Karachi

An investigation is underway in the Pakistan city of Karachi into why a packed Airbus A320 of Pakistan International Airlines crashed into a residential area in the city.

The Airbus A320, registration AP-BLD, was operating flight PK8303 and took off from Lahore Allama Iqbal International Airport (LHE) shortly after 1300 local time,  0800 GMT.  The aircraft was carrying 91 passengers and 8 crew according to PIA and was attempting to land at Jinnah International Airport, Karachi (KHI). Air traffic control lost contact with the flight crew around 1430 local time - 0930 GMT, shortly after the crew had reported engine issues and according to sources, issuing a mayday emergency. 

Images and video circulating on social media show a wide area of destruction and debris over the densely populated Model Colony residential area, around two miles north-east of the airport and not far from the airport's boundary.

According to Sindh Province health officials, at least 37 dead bodies had been taken to two local hospitals, although it is not known at this stage if they were passengers from the aircraft or local residents or bystanders.

Imran Khan, the Prime Minister of Pakistan said he was "Shocked & saddened by the PIA crash," and was in touch with "PIA CEO Arshad Malik"  was on heading to Karachi and was also communicating with the "rescue & relief teams on the ground as this is the priority right now. An immediate inquiry will be instituted. Prayers & condolences go to families of the deceased."

Dunya News has reported that it has received an unconfirmed recording of the last radio transmissions between the aircraft and air traffic control, in which the pilot reports that the aircraft had lost power in two engines and then issued a "mayday, mayday, mayday" a few seconds later.

Two passengers are known to have survived the crash, Zafar Masud, president of the Bank of Punjab and Mohammad Zubair had been pulled from the wreckage and taken to hospital for treatment. 

The disaster comes just days after commercial flights has been allowed to resume following a nationwide lockdown because of the ongoing coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic.

The airline has released the following statement:

"We deeply regret to announce that a PIA flight PK 8303 from Lahore to Karachi (Aircraft Airbus A-320) registration (AP-BLD) crashed near Karachi Airport at 14.39 hrs PST today, 22nd May 2020. No further details of the accident are available at the moment. 91 passengers, Seven crew members were on board.

Details are still coming about the unfortunate and sad incident. PIA is doing everything possible to assist authorities at this time

As per international aviation requirement, an Emergency Response Center has been established at PIA Headquarters Karachi from where senior PIA management is monitoring the situation since the incident took place.

Rescue efforts are under way and we are also ascertaining the extent of damage to life of those on board the aircraft. PIA is doing everything possible to help the families of passengers and crew members for first hand information regarding the incident and damage.

The crash site is near Karachi Airport.
PIA's emergency response center can be accessed at the following phone numbers for updates:
0092-21-99043833, 99242284 and 0092-21-990443766

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