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Pakistan jet with 98 aboard crashes near Karachi airport

Last Updated May 22, 2020 at 9:09 am MDT

Fire brigade staff try to put out fire caused by plane crash in Karachi, Pakistan, Friday, May 22, 2020. An aviation official says a passenger plane belonging to state-run Pakistan International Airlines carrying more than 100 passengers and crew has crashed near the southern port city of Karachi. (AP Photo/Fareed Khan)

KARACHI, Pakistan (AP) — 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 at least two survivors from the plane, and it was unknown how many people on the ground were hurt, with at least five houses destroyed.

Original reports had said there were 107 passengers and crew on board.

The pilot of Pakistani International Airlines Flight 8303 was heard transmitting a mayday to the tower shortly before the crash of the Airbus A320, which was flying from Lahore to Karachi.

Witnesses said the Airbus A320 appeared to attempt to land two or three times before crashing in a residential area near Jinnah International Airport. The residential area on the edge of the airport known as Model Colony is a poor area and heavily congested.

A resident of the area, Abdul Rahman, said he saw the aircraft circle at least three times, appearing to try to land before it crashed into several houses.

Police and military cordoned off the area.

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan tweeted: “Shocked & saddened by the PIA crash. . . Immediate inquiry will be instituted. Prayers & condolences go to families of the deceased.”

Local television reports showed smoke coming from the direction of the airport and video emerging of the aircraft flying low over a residential area seemed showed apparent flames shooting from one of the engines. Ambulances were on their way to the airport and there were reports of some injuries, possibly residents on the ground.

Airbus did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the crash. The flight typically takes an hour and a half from the northeastern city of Lahore, the capital of Pakistan’s most populous province, Punjab, to Karachi.

Airworthiness documents showed the plane last received a government check on Nov. 1, 2019. PIA’s chief engineer signed a separate certificate April 28 saying all maintenance had been conducted on the plane and that “the aircraft is fully airworthy and meets all the safety” standards.

Ownership records for the Airbus A320 involved in the crash showed China Eastern Airlines flew the plane from 2004 until 2014. The plane then entered PIA’s fleet, leased from GE Capital Aviation Services.