BREAKING: Over 100 Feared Dead As Passenger Plane Crashes Near Residential Area

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A passenger plane with nearly 100 people on board has crashed in a residential area in the Pakistani city of Karachi, the country’s civil aviation agency said on Friday.

The Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) plane was close to landing when it came down among houses, sending plumes of smoke into the air that could be seen from some distance away.

PIA spokesman Abdullah Hafeez said there were 91 passengers and seven crew on board the flight, which lost contact with air traffic control just after 2.30pm (09:30 GMT).

“It is too early to comment on the cause of the crash,” he told AFP news agency.

Abdul Sattar Khokhar, the spokesman for the country’s aviation authority, said the Airbus A320 was travelling from Lahore to Karachi, the country’s largest city.

The PK8303 flight was due to land in Karachi at 14:45 local time (09:45 GMT).

The Pakistan military said security forces had been deployed to the area and helicopters were being used to survey the damage and help ongoing rescue operations.

“Our plane A320 which was coming from Lahore to Karachi … the last words for the pilot were that there is a technical problem and he was told on final approach that he has both runways available to him. But the pilot indicated that he wanted to go around,” PIA CEO Arshad Malik said in a video message released after the crash.

At least six wounded have been taken to a hospital, but yet to be confirmed if they are crash survivors.

Earlier, a relative of a passenger on board the plane told Al Jazeera she was able to contact him after the crash.

Images shown on national television showed plumes of smoke above homes in congested residential apartment buildings, with fire trucks en route to the scene of the crash.

Television footage from the scene showed a number of ambulances unable to make progress in the narrow lanes of the residential neighbourhood where the crash took place, as people crowded in towards the site.

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan said he was “shocked and saddened” by the crash, tweeting that he was in touch with the state airline’s chief executive. “Prayers & condolences go to families of the deceased,” said Khan.

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

Pakistan resumed limited domestic commercial flights last week, after a months-long suspension due to the coronavirus. Flights are operating with reduced capacity to ensure that passengers are sitting with one seat’s space between them in the cabin.

In 2016, a PIA commercial flight crashed in the northern Pakistani region of Chitral, killing all 47 people on board.

PIA, one of the world’s leading airlines until the 1970s, now suffers from a sinking reputation due to frequent cancellations, delays and financial troubles. 

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