Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) Airbus A320 aircraft, carrying over 100 people onboard on a domestic flight PK8303 in Pakistan, crashed into a residential area in Karachi on May 22, 2020.

The A320, (registration number AP-BLD), aircraft took off from Lahore Allama Iqbal International Airport (LHE) shortly after 8am (UTC). It was scheduled to arrive in Karachi Jinnah International Airport (KHI) 1,5 hours later.

Initial reports, citing PIA’s spokesperson, indicate there were 107 people on board, including 99 passengers and eight crew members.

Images on social media show debris scattered in a residential area in Karachi and thick black smoke rising from the crash site. 

A source from Karachi airport (KHI) said the pilot reported an engine failure to control tower. He was immediately informed about two runways, both clear for landing, however, the communication between crew and the operator was lost. The plane crashed right afterwards.

“Shocked & saddened by the PIA crash,” Imran Khan, the Prime Minister of Pakistan said via social media. “Am 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. Immediate inquiry will be instituted. Prayers & condolences go to families of the deceased.”

The Pakistan’s government has just loosened flight restrictions in the country. On May 15, 2020, it allowed to reinstate some domestic and charter flight operations between Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad, Peshawar and Quetta Airports, in addition to previously authorized operations from Islamabad to Gilgit and Skardu Airports. International flights remain banned in the country until May 31, 2020. 

This is the second crash of PIA since 2016, when a passenger aircraft ATR 42-500 carrying 47 people crashed near Havelian, Pakistan. 

Update:

Pakistan International Airlines has confirmed the news about the accident in a statement, adding that the crash site is near Karachi Airport. There were 91 passengers and seven crew members on board the ill-fated PIA flight PK8303, according to the airline. 

“Rescue efforts are under way and we are also ascertaining the extent of damage to life of those on board the aircraft,” the statement read. “PIA is doing everything possible to help the families of passengers and crew members for first hand information regarding the incident and damage.”

The accident falls on the eve of Eid al-Fitr. The Islamic religious holiday, also known as the “Festival of Breaking the Fast", marks the end of Ramadan. This year, Eid al-Fitr will begin in the evening of May 23, 2020. Islam is the official national religion in Pakistan and around 97% of the country’s population is considered muslim.