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Pakistan plane with 107 on board crashes into houses upon landing

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ISLAMABAD — An Airbus A320 plane with 107 passengers and crew on board crashed into a residential area of Pakistan’s southern city of Karachi on Friday, the country’s civil agency said, killing an unknown number of people.

The plane operated by Pakistan International Airline (PIA) crashed moment before landing, said Abdul Sattar Khokhar, a spokesman for the aviation authority.

The crash occurred during the last minute of the flight as the plane was about to land at the Jinnah International Airport, he added.

Deaths have been reported but the specific number of casualties was unknown, according to both the airline and Civil Aviation Minister Ghulam Sarwar.

Flight PK8303 took off from the eastern city of Lahore around 1 pm (0800 GMT) and crashed at 2:35 pm.

It slammed into the Model Colony neighborhood some 2 kilometres from the runway, Khokhar said.

The military and civil agencies were undertaking the rescue operation and searching through the rubble of houses, an army statement said.

At least 15 people who were wounded in the damaged houses were taken to Karachi’s Jinnah Hospital, where a state of emergency was declared, doctor Seemi Jamali said.

The rescue operation was moving ahead slowly because heavy machinery could not move into the narrow streets, broadcaster Dunya television reported.

The pilot was asked to land by the control tower but he relayed a message that the plane had in a technical problem, PIA chief Arshad Malik said.

“The pilot made an attempt and went on a go-ground. We will know the exact after investigations,” he told media.

Malik said there was loss of life in the crash but did not confirm how many passengers had died.

Witnesses told local television channels they saw the plane circling around the airport before coming down.

Television footage showed ambulances rushing to the crash site and plumes of thick smoke rising from the scene.

Pakistan resumed domestic flights on May 15 after a coronavirus lockdown. International air travel remains banned until the end of this month.

Pakistan has seen several deadly air crashes in the past decade.

In 2016, 48 people were killed when an ATR turboprop operated by PIA crashed in northern Pakistan.

In 2012, all 127 people on board Bhoja Air, a small private airline, travelling from Karachi to Islamabad were killed when the plane crashed in the approach area.

In 2010, in Pakistan’s worst-ever air disaster, an Airblue Airbus crashed before landing in Islamabad, killing all 152 people on board.

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