Scores feared dead as passenger jet crashes in Pakistan

(CBS News) — Pakistani officials said a passenger jet crashed Friday in the city of Karachi. Videos posted online showed fire and smoke on the ground and several homes had reportedly caught fire. A spokesman from the country’s flagship carrier Pakistan International Airlines told the Reuters news agency that flight PK 8303 went down carrying 99 passengers and 8 crew.

There was no official word on the number of casualties, but Pakistan’s leader tweeted condolences “to the families of the deceased.”

CBS News’ Maria Usman said the PIA Airbus A320 from crashed down into a neighborhood called Jinnah Gardens, close to Karachi’s airport. A source at the airport said the pilot had informed the control tower that one of the plane’s two engines had failed. The control tower told the pilot that two runways were clear for a landing, but air traffic control lost communication with the crew and the plane crashed shortly after.

Rescue efforts were underway and an official with Pakistan’s Interior Ministry told CBS News there were survivors, but no numbers could be confirmed.

A video shared online by Pakistan’s GEO TV showed an emergency crew trying to reach the scene through rubble, with flames still visible in the background. Others showed huge clouds of black smoke billowing up between tightly packed buildings in the residential neighborhood.

Abdul Sattar Khokhar, spokesman for the country’s aviation authority, confirmed that the flight had been flying to Karachi from Lahore. The Associated Press quoted witnesses as saying the Airbus A320 appeared to have tried to land at least a couple times before crashing into the residential area near Karachi’s Jinnah International Airport.

The crash came just days after the country began allowing commercial flights to resume after planes were grounded during a lockdown over the coronavirus pandemic.

It also comes as Pakistanis across the country are preparing to celebrate the end of Ramadan and the beginning of Muslim holiday Eid al-Fitr, with many travelling back to their homes in cities and villages.

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan sent his condolences to the victims of the crash in a tweet, vowing an immediate investigation into the disaster.

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