(Update 1: adds details)
Islamabad, May 22 (efe-epa).- A Pakistan International Airlines passenger flight with over 100 people on board crashed near a residential area close to the airport in the port city of Karachi on Friday, officials said.
There was no immediate word about any survivors from the crash site near Karachi’s Model Colony area.
However, Karachi Police Superintendent Sohail Akhtar told EFE that the rescuers had recovered eight bodies from the area he was stationed at.
The number of dead could run into dozens as reports indicate that the plane touched and skidded off several rooftops of the houses in the residential area before it burst into flames around 2.30 PM.
The Airbus A320 took off from the eastern city of Lahore and was about to land at Karachi’s Jinnah international airport when it crashed.
Online videos and pictures purportedly from the crash site showed plumes of smoke rising from what looked like a cluster of residential houses amid shrieks and sobs of wailing men and women.
“The plane crashed close to the Karachi airport. It was just one minute away from the airport and fell on a residential area,” Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority spokesperson Abdul Sattar told EFE. “An emergency response protocol has been activated.”
The Civil Aviation Ministry said the flight was carrying 99 passengers and eight crew members.
“I cannot say (anything) about the damages at the moment. We cannot say the reason also as it is too early (to ascertain that),” Sattar said.
Air Vice Marshal Arshad Malik, the chief executive of the PIA, said the pilot of the plane had informed the control tower that there were some technical difficulties in landing the plane.
He said the airline was investigating to find out “what exactly happened”.
The crash came as Pakistanis prepare to celebrate Eid-ul-Fitr, a Muslim festival that marks the end of the month of fasting.
The Karachi administration put the city’s main hospitals on alert for emergency medical aid to survivors.
Ambulances and rescue officials arrived at the site to help residents while the Pakistan Army flew in its helicopters for rescue efforts.
The army’s media wing, the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), said in a tweet that its Quick Reaction Force and Sindh Pakistan Rangers had arrived at the site for relief and rescue efforts alongside civil administration.
Pakistan experienced one of its worst air tragedies in 2012 when 138 people died in a plane crash near Islamabad.
A PIA flight carrying 48 passengers and crew had crashed on the way to Islamabad from Chitral in the north on Dec. 7, 2016, with no survivors. EFE-EPA