Sajjad Gul, the pilot of the Pakistan International Airline plane that crashed near Karachi airport on Friday afternoon, told air traffic controllers moments before crashing into a residential area that he had lost an engine, according to audio tapes of his last conversation played by news channel ARY.
The plane had taken off from Lahore airport with 99 passengers a little after 1 pm.
Sajjad Gul, described by Pakistan Airline Pilots Association as one of its most experienced members, had made one aborted landing attempt before reporting the technical problem that he faced, according to local media reports.
“We have lost an engine…. Mayday, Mayday, Mayday,” the pilot is heard calmly telling the traffic controllers who told him to land on any of the two runways that had been left open for him.
تسجيل صوتي للمحادثة الأخيرة بين قائد الطائرة المنكوبة والمراقب الجوي يقول فيها بأنهم "قد فقدوا محرك "— عشاق عالم الطيران (@AviationWG) May 22, 2020
We have lost an engine pic.twitter.com/6xV2rAaMgB
The pilot, however, went for a go-around, said PIA chief executive officer Air Vice Marshal Arshad Malik. Communication between the ATC and the plane snapped soon after.
There are no immediate reports on the number of casualties. News agency AP quoted Karachi Mayor saying there were no survivors but there were multiple people on social media who contradicted this claim.
Geo News said the plane had come down among houses at the Jinnah Garden area near Model Colony in Malir. Local television reports showed visuals of plumes of smoke that could be seen from a distance.
PIA spokesman Abdullah Hafeez said there were 91 passengers and seven crew on board the flight, which lost contact with air traffic control just after 2.30 pm, news agency AFP said.
On the ground, rescue workers and local residents pulled people from the debris, as firefighters tried to put out the flames. “I heard a big bang and woke up to people calling for the fire brigade,” said Karachi resident Mudassar Ali.
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan said he was “shocked and saddened” by the crash, tweeting that he was in touch with the airline’s chief executive.