At least 80 bodies retrieved from site of Pakistan plane crash

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At least 80 bodies have been recovered from the site of a plane crash in a residential area in Pakistan’s southern city of Karachi, and dozens more are feared dead.

The Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) Flight PK 8303, carrying at least 98 people, crashed on Friday, sparking an explosion and also killing a number of people on the ground. Different sources reported slightly different tallies. “We have recovered 40-plus bodies so far,” Major Mohammad Mansoor, from the Pakistan Rangers, who was overseeing the rescue efforts, told AFP.

Meanwhile, Faisal Edhi, who heads the charitable Edhi Foundation that was taking part in the rescue operation, said at least 42 dead bodies had been retrieved from the site of the crash. “As per our estimates, there are around 50 more dead bodies under the debris,” he said in a live television broadcast. The state carrier’s CEO, Arshad Malik, confirmed 41 fatalities at a news conference. At least two passengers survived. The aircraft, an Airbus A320, was en route from Lahore to Karachi when it went down.

PIA spokesman Abdullah Hafeez said there had been 91 passengers and seven crew on board, but an aviation authority spokesperson put the number of the crew at eight. Interior Minister Ijaz Ahmad Shah said the aircraft had developed a technical fault, adding that the pilot issued a mayday call after the plane lost an engine. Hafeez had said the pilot had reported “some technical problem” in his last communication with traffic control. “He was told from the final approach that both the runways were ready where he can land, but the pilot decided that he wanted to do (a) go-round… It is a very tragic incident,” he said. Earlier on Friday, the Pakistani military said its quick reaction force and paramilitary troops had been deployed to the scene to join civil administration bodies for rescue operations.

Prime Minister Imran Khan said he was “shocked & saddened by the PIA crash,” adding that he was “in touch with PIA CEO Arshad Malik, who has left for Karachi & with the rescue & relief teams on ground as this is the priority right now.” The crash comes only days after commercial flights resumed in Pakistan following the grounding of planes during the coronavirus lockdown. Pakistan has witnessed frequent plane and helicopter crashes over the years. The country’s most recent deadly crash took place in 2016, killing 47 people. The worst air disaster came in 2010, when an Airbus A321 operated by private airline Airblue crashed near Islamabad, claiming the lives of all the 152 people on board.

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