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Thursday May 28th, 2020 3:13PM

Pakistani passenger plane crashes near Karachi, 107 on board

By The Associated Press
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KARACHI, Pakistan (AP) — A passenger plane carrying 107 passengers and crew belonging to state-run Pakistan International Airlines crashed near the southern port city of Karachi on Friday, a civil aviation official said.

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, said Abdul Sattar Kokhar, spokesman for the country's civil aviation authority.

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 before it crashed into several houses.

Police and military cordoned off the area.

Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan tweeted: “Shocked & saddened by the PIA crash. . . Immediate inquiry will be instituted. Prayers & condolences go to families of the deceased."

Local television reports showed smoke coming from the direction of the airport and video emerging of the aircraft flying low over a residential area seemed showed apparent flames shooting from one of the engines. Ambulances were on their way to the airport and there were reports of some injuries, possibly residents on the ground.

Airbus did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the crash. The flight typically takes an hour and a half from the northeastern city of Lahore, the capital of Pakistan's most populous province, Punjab, 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.

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Associated Press writers Jon Gambrell in Dubai, United Arab Emirates; Kathy Gannon and Munir Ahmed in Islamabad, and Asim Tanveer in Multan, Pakistan contributed to this report

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