Almost 100 people were killed on Friday when a passenger plane went down in the Pakistan city of Karachi.
On Friday afternoon, local time, reports flooded in of a big black cloud of smoke coming from a residential area near Model Colony in Karachi.
The Airbus 320 jet, carrying 99 passengers and 8 crew members, was minutes away from landing when it crashed in the neighborhood around 2:45 p.m., local time, according to a statement made by Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) that owns and operates the jet.
Flight number PK8303 left the airport in the capital city of Lahore earlier in the afternoon and was set to land at Karachi's Jinnah International Airport.
|Fire brigade staff try to put out fire caused by plane crash in Karachi, Pakistan, Friday, May 22, 2020. An aviation official says a passenger plane belonging to state-run Pakistan International Airlines carrying more than 100 passengers and crew has crashed near the southern port city of Karachi. There were no immediate reports on the number of casualties. (AP Photo/Fareed Khan)|
"Our crew is trained to handle emergency landings. All my prayers are with the families," PIA spokesperson Abdullah Hafeez said, confirming the crash.
A massive search and rescue operation was underway Friday afternoon.
Over the weekend, it was announced that there were a few survivors of the incident, but at least 97 people had been killed.
As of Saturday, 97 bodies have been recovered from the crash site, said Pakistan Armed Forces spokesman Major General Babar Iftikhar. Iftikhar added that two passengers had survived the crash in a quote from CNN.
The province's Health Department spokeswoman said that only 21 of the bodies had been identified, noting that many suffered from severe burns.
According to PIA spokesman Abdullah Khan, the plane's flight recorder was recovered.
|Volunteers carry the dead body of a plane crash victim at the site of a crash in Karachi, Pakistan, Friday, May 22, 2020. An aviation official says a passenger plane belonging to state-run Pakistan International Airlines carrying more than 100 passengers and crew has crashed near the southern port city of Karachi. There were no immediate reports on the number of casualties. (AP Photo/Fareed Khan)|
This airplane crash comes amid the global COVID-19 pandemic, Domestic commercial flights in Pakistan had only resumed a few days ago, May 16, after a nationwide lockdown that halted air traffic in the country to help contain the spread of the virus.
The crash also occurred just a day or two before the start of Eid, a festival that marks the end of fasting during Ramadan. Pakistan has one of the largest Muslim populations in the word.
The official cause of the crash is currently unknown and still being investigated. However, PIA chief executive Air Vice Marshal Arshad Malik said the pilot called into traffic control before the crash to report "technical difficulties" and the loss of at least one engine.
At the time of the crash, weather conditions were calm in the Karachi area.
"Hazy sunshine and dry conditions held throughout the afternoon in Karachi, with light winds," according to AccuWeather Meteorologist Rob Richards.
As clean-up and search and rescue efforts continue, the typical heat and sunshine for this time of year is expected to persist.
"Without much of a change in the weather pattern during the coming days, haze is anticipated to continue for at least several days. This could lead to poorer air quality, which may be unhealthy for sensitive groups," Richards added.
This is a breaking story. Keep checking back on AccuWeather.com and stay tuned for more information.