KARACHI, Pakistan (AP) — A passenger plane belonging to state-run airline Pakistani International Airlines has crashed near the southern port city of Karachi, according to Abdul Sattar Kokhar, spokesman for the country’s civil aviation authority.
There were no immediate reports on the number of casualties. The aircraft arriving from the eastern city of Lahore was carrying 99 passengers and eight crew members, Kokhar said.
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 at the airport before it crashed into several houses.
Police and military had cordoned off the area.
Local television reports showed smoke coming from the direction of the airport. Ambulances were on their way to the airport.
Airbus did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the crash. The flight typically takes an hour and a half to travel from the northeastern city of Lahore, the capital of Pakistan’s most populous Punjab province 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.