Islamabad, Pakistan – At least 92 people have been killed after an Airbus A320 passenger airliner crashed into a residential neighbourhood while on approach to the airport in the southern Pakistani city of Karachi, officials say.
At least two male passengers of Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) flight PK-8303 from the eastern city of Lahore to Karachi survived the crash on Friday, a health ministry spokeswoman told Al Jazeera.
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There were at least 91 passengers on board the plane, according to an official passenger manifest shared with Al Jazeera by the officials.
Health ministry spokeswoman Meeran Yousuf told Al Jazeera by telephone that 92 people have died, with 60 bodies kept at Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre, Karachi’s largest government hospital and 32 at Civil Hospital Karachi, another leading state-run hospital.
Yousuf said the two survivors were being treated at the hospitals in Karachi, while 19 bodies have been identified so far.
Several people who were on the ground when the airliner crashed into houses in the densely populated Model Colony area of Karachi, adjacent to the city’s international airport, were being treated for their injuries, she added.
Its so heartbreaking and Devastating💔 Ya Allah Reham🙏#planecrash pic.twitter.com/9SU1v4i5O8
— ZaynArshad (@Zayyn007) May 22, 2020
“Our plane [an Airbus] A320 which was coming from Lahore to Karachi was on final approach,” said PIA chief Arshad Malik in a video message released after the crash.
“The last words we heard from our pilot were that there is a technical problem and he was told on final approach that he has both runways available to him to land on. But the pilot decided that he wanted to go around.”
The plane then rapidly lost altitude and crashed short of the runway into the Model Colony neighbourhood, witnesses told the local media.
Dense plumes of black smoke rose above houses in the narrow streets of the neighbourhood, with television footage showing several houses crushed from the impact of the aircraft.
Parts of the plane, including the emergency exit door, were seen strewn in the streets.
Wreckage of the PIA passenger plane crash can be seen in a residential area in Karachi [Sabir Mazhar/Anadolu]
Pakistan’s military said it had deployed helicopters to assess the damage and help ferry the dead and wounded to the hospitals.
An emergency was declared in all of the city’s hospitals, already reeling from a widespread outbreak of the coronavirus, provincial health minister Azra Pechucho told reporters.
“We are doing DNA testing of the dead bodies so that they can be identified and they can be given to their families,” she said.
“We were already in an emergency situation due to COVID, we were already alert … and now we have put the surgical units on alert as well.”
‘Shocked and saddened’
Pakistan resumed limited domestic flight operations last week, after a lengthy suspension due to the coronavirus outbreak, which has killed more than 1,067 people in the South Asian nation, according to the government data.
The Airbus A320, operated by Pakistan’s national flag carrier, was due to land in Karachi at 2:45pm local time (09:45 GMT) after an hour and a half in the air after departing Lahore earlier in the day.
In 2016, Pakistan suffered its deadliest recent air crash, when all 47 people on board a PIA Embraeur ATR aircraft were killed when it crashed into a mountain en route from the northern town of Chitral to the capital Islamabad.
In 2010, the country saw its worst air disaster, with all 152 people on board an Air Blue passenger flight killed when the plane crashed into the hills just north of the capital Islamabad.
Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan ordered an immediate inquiry into Friday’s crash.
Shocked & saddened by the PIA crash. 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.
— Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) May 22, 2020
Asad Hashim is Al Jazeera’s digital correspondent in Pakistan. He tweets @AsadHashim
Dozens killed in fighting in Afghanistan as peace talks continue |NationalTribune.com
Fighting between Afghan forces and the Taliban left dozens dead in a restive eastern province as negotiators from both sides pushed ahead with peace talks in Qatar. Overnight clashes erupted in three districts of Nangarhar province when Taliban fighters attacked several checkpoints of Afghan forces and pro-government fighters, Ataullah Khogyani, spokesman for the Nangarhar governor…
Fighting between Afghan forces and the Taliban left dozens dead in a restive eastern province as negotiators from both sides pushed ahead with peace talks in Qatar.
Overnight clashes erupted in three districts of Nangarhar province when Taliban fighters attacked several checkpoints of Afghan forces and pro-government fighters, Ataullah Khogyani, spokesman for the Nangarhar governor told the AFP news agency on Thursday.
He said at least 11 Afghan security personnel were killed in fighting in Hesarak, while eight pro-government fighters were killed in Khogyani district.
The official added that about 30 Taliban fighters died in the clashes.
The Taliban has not commented on the fighting so far.
“There have been no attacks from our side … The enemies continue to attack and spill the blood of Afghans,” Afghanistan’s acting Minister of Defense Asadullah Khalid said.
The latest fighting comes as the Afghan government and the Taliban are engaged in talks in Doha aimed at ending the long-running conflict.
Representatives from the Afghan government and the Taliban started face-to-face talks on Monday after months of delay over a contentious prisoners swap agreement between the two sides.
The negotiations are a result of a deal between the Taliban and the United States signed in February, which also paved the way for the withdrawal of all foreign forces by May 2021.
US Special Representative for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad said although the talks raise hopes of the war ending in the country, many challenges remain.
“This is a new phase in diplomacy for peace in Afghanistan,” Khalilzad said last week.
“These negotiations are an important achievement, but there are … significant challenges on the way to reaching an agreement.”
Al Jazeera and news agencies
Dozens feared trapped in building collapse in India’s Maharashtra |NationalTribune.com
One person has died and at least 100 feared trapped in the debris of a five-storey building that collapsed in an industrial town in western India’s Maharashtra state, officials said. Not all the roughly 200 residents of the building in Raigad district’s Mahad town, about 165km (100 miles) south of India’s financial capital Mumbai, were…
One person has died and at least 100 feared trapped in the debris of a five-storey building that collapsed in an industrial town in western India’s Maharashtra state, officials said.
Not all the roughly 200 residents of the building in Raigad district’s Mahad town, about 165km (100 miles) south of India’s financial capital Mumbai, were at home when it crumbled in the evening, local legislator Bharatshet Maruti Gogawale told the Reuters news agency on Monday.
India’s National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) spokesman Sachidanand Gawde told reporters that emergency workers had retrieved the body of one victim, who has not yet been identified.
“I believe about 100 to 125 people must have been inside at the time of its collapse,” Gogawale, who was present at the accident site, told Reuters.
The building was comprised of 47 flats, police officials in Mahad said in a statement.
Local residents and police combed through tin sheets, metal rods and other wreckage in a desperate search for survivors as ambulances ferried victims to nearby hospitals.
Authorities said more than two dozen people were pulled out by rescue teams and taken to hospital amid heavy monsoon rains.
NDRF rescue teams and canine squads were deployed to the scene of the accident.
An unnamed official with the Maharashtra state Disaster Management Unit later told the Press Trust of India that at least 51 people were missing.
A man removes the debris after a five-storey building collapsed in Raigad in the western state of Maharashtra [Reuters]
Former Mahad legislator Manik Motiram Jagtap told the local TV9 Marathi channel that the structure was 10 years old and built on “weak” foundations.
“It fell like a house of cards,” he said. “It is a scary situation.”
The office of Uddhav Thackeray, chief minister of Maharashtra state, said on Twitter that he had been in touch with local representatives in the area.
“He has assured them that all possible support will be extended for speedy rescue and relief works,” the tweet said.
The cause of the accident was not clear. But building collapses are common in India, usually due to shoddy construction, substandard materials and disregard of regulations.
More than 1,200 people were killed in 1,161 building collapses across India in 2017, according to latest data from the National Crime Records Bureau.
Many of these accidents occur between June and September during the monsoon season, which plays a vital role in boosting agricultural harvests across South Asia.
But the monsoon season also causes widespread death and destruction, unleashing floods, triggering building collapses and inundating low-lying villages.
The death toll from monsoon-related disasters this year has topped 1,200, including more than 800 lives lost in India alone, according to a tally by the AFP news agency.
Dozens killed in separate Burkina Faso attacks |NationalTribune.com
In this file photo from 2015, soldiers guard positions near the Naaba Koom military base in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso [Arnaud Brunet/Reuters] An armed group in Burkina Faso attacked a cattle market and a humanitarian convoy, killing at least 35 people, the government said on Sunday. Twenty-five people were killed and more wounded in the attack…
In this file photo from 2015, soldiers guard positions near the Naaba Koom military base in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso [Arnaud Brunet/Reuters]
An armed group in Burkina Faso attacked a cattle market and a humanitarian convoy, killing at least 35 people, the government said on Sunday.
Twenty-five people were killed and more wounded in the attack on the market in the eastern village of Kompienga, while five civilians and five military police were killed near the northern village of Foube, the government said in a statement.
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Armed groups “targeted a humanitarian convoy returning from Foube after delivering supplies”, it said.
A further 20 people were wounded in the convoy attack, it said.
No group has claimed responsibility.
Saturday’s violence underscores deep instability in parts of Burkina Faso, which has been battling armed groups with links to al-Qaeda and ISIL (ISIS) since 2017.
Hundreds have been killed in the past year in the Sahel nation, and more than half a million people have fled their homes due to the violence, which has also raised ethnic and religious tensions.
The bloodshed follows the death of at least 15 people on Friday in an attack on a convoy transporting traders in northern Burkina Faso. That attack, in Loroum province, was also blamed on armed groups.
In the past five years, more than 900 people have been killed by armed groups, while some 860,000 people have fled their homes.
The Sahel country is part of a regional effort to battle an armed uprising along with Mali, Niger, Mauritania and Chad. Their militaries, under-equipped and poorly trained, are supported by 5,000 French troops in the region. Unrest in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger killed approximately 4,000 people last year, according to UN figures.
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