At least 97 people perished in the Friday crash of an Airbus A320 over a residential area in Karachi, the major city in southern Pakistan, according to a new report released on Saturday by local authorities who also reported of two survivors.
The Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) plane crashed into a group of houses as it approached Karachi airport. The latest death toll from 97 dead and two survivors includes all occupants of the aircraft, said health services in Sindh province, of which Karachi is the capital. It is not known whether the disaster also claimed lives on the ground.
The aircraft from Lahore was carrying 99 people (91 passengers and 8 crew members) said a PIA spokesman on Saturday, correcting a first count which reported only 98 occupants. Among the two miracles of the crash was Zafar Masud, president of the Bank of Punjab, one of Pakistan’s largest banks, said PIA president Arshad Malik.
Rescue operations ended at dawn on Saturday, authorities said. During the whole day of Friday, rescuers and residents had searched the rubble for bodies. An AFP journalist had seen several charred bodies loaded on board an ambulance.
Lee Flight PK8303 “lost contact with air traffic control at 2:37 pm” (5:37 am ET), said PIA spokesman Abdullah Hafeez.
Ashad Malik, CEO of the company said the aircraft, an Airbus A320, was on final approach from Karachi Airport when the incident happened.
The aircraft put into service in 2004 was under the service of PIA only since 2014, according to an Airbus press release.
Prime Minister Imran Khan said he was “shocked and saddened” by the disaster, addressing his “prayers and condolences to the families and missing persons” on Twitter.
According to Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, the plane had on board “many people returning home for Eid” el-Fitr, the celebration of the end of Ramadan, the most important holiday for Muslims.
The accident comes just days after the country authorized the resumption of domestic commercial flights, suspended for more than a month to combat the spread of the new coronavirus. Very few international flights had been maintained.