At least 97 people died when a plane crashed in a residential neighborhood of Karachi, in southern Pakistan, and whose cause points to the failure of an engine.

The Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) aircraft, an Airbus A320, was about to land when it crashed into the houses, causing an explosion and large clouds of black smoke.

According to an official statement, two people survived the tragedy and 17 bodies have been identified so far.

One of the survivors is Zafar Masud, the president of the Bank of Punjab, one of the largest in Pakistan, the airline reported. He added that rescue operations could take two to three days.

Work on the ground will continue “until we have recovered all the bodies,” said first responders, who confirmed that 97 bodies were removed.

According to the airline’s president, Arshad Malik, the aircraft, an Airbus A320 from Lahore, was “close to making landfall” at Karachi airport when an incident occurred.

The pilot, Sajjad Gull, who according to an official statement was the most experienced in command of the Airbus A320s, complained about a problem after trying to approach the runway a second time, before the control tower lost contact with him.

Interior Minister Ijaz Ahmad Shah said that the pilot indicated that he had lost an engine and then made a distress call.

The accident coincides with the preparation for the celebration of the end of Ramadan and the start of Eid el Fitr, which leads many Pakistanis to travel back to their homes and villages.

The Pakistani Army was deployed to the area to monitor the damage and assist in rescue operations.

Commercial flights had resumed a few days ago after being paralyzed by the coronavirus pandemic.

History of tragedies in the Asian country

Pakistan is no stranger to air casualties. In 2010, he suffered one of his worst flight tragedies, when 152 people died in a plane crash near Islamabad. Two years later, another aviation mishap killed 138 passengers near the capital. In December 2016, another incident caused the death of 48 people while on a journey between Chitral and the Pakistani capital.

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