Pakistan jet with 98 aboard crashes in crowded neighborhood

  • Fire brigade staff try to put out fire caused by a plane crash Friday in Karachi, Pakistan. (AP Photo/Fareed Khan)

KARACHI, Pakistan — A jetliner carrying 98 people crashed Friday in a crowded neighborhood near the airport in Pakistan’s port city of Karachi after an apparent engine failure during landing. Officials said there were two survivors from the plane but they also found at least 57 bodies in the wreckage.

It was unknown how many people on the ground were hurt as the Pakistan International Airlines jet, an Airbus A320, plowed into an alley and destroyed at least five houses.

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The pilot was heard transmitting a mayday to the tower shortly before the crash of Flight 8303, which was flying from Lahore to Karachi and carrying many traveling for the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr.

Video on social media appeared to show the jet flying low with flames shooting from one of its engines.

The plane went down about 2:39 p.m. northeast of Jinnah International Airport in the poor and congested residential area known as Model Colony between houses that were smashed by its wings. Police in protective masks struggled to clear away crowds amid the smoke and dust so ambulances and firetrucks could reach the crash site.

As darkness fell, crews worked under floodlights, and a portable morgue was set up. The Sindh provincial health department said it had recovered 57 bodies, while PIA chairman Arshad Malik said finding all the dead could take two to three days.

Pakistan’s civil aviation authority said the plane had 91 passengers and a crew of seven. The A320 can carry up to 180 passengers, depending on how its cabin is configured.

At least two people aboard survived, according to the health department, revising an earlier statement that three were alive.

Local TV stations showed video of a man on a stretcher they identified as Zafar Masood, the head of the Bank of Punjab. Malik later confirmed that Masood survived the crash.

The Sindh provincial government press department later distributed a photo depicting a second survivor identified as Mohammad Zubair, recovering in a Karachi hospital.

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At least three people on the ground were injured.

Malik announced an investigation into the crash, adding that the aircraft was in good working order.

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