The flight data recorder from the Pakistani airliner that crashed into a residential neighbourhood of Karachi has been found, as the death toll rose to 97.
There were only two survivors, while no fatalities were reported in the densely populated area of the city where the aircraft crash-landed on Friday.
The Pakistan International Airlines Airbus jet with 99 people on board slammed into homes in the city of Karachi while approaching the airport.
Smoke billowed from the scene and twisted sections of fuselage lay in the remains of multi-storey buildings as ambulances rushed through chaotic crowds.
CNN reports the pilot made a distress call before flight PK 8303 came down at about 2.45pm local time on Friday.
In the audio recording obtained by CNN the pilot is heard speaking with air traffic control about his approach before saying: “We are proceeding direct, we have lost engines.”
The Airbus A320 was flying from the eastern city of Lahore to Karachi in the south, just as Pakistan was resuming domestic flights in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, according to the aircraft tracking website FlightRadar24.
The crash happened on the eve of the Muslim festival of Eid, when Pakistanis traditionally travel to visit relatives.
The plane was on its second attempt to land after cancelling a previous one in a routine manoeuvre known as a go-around, one person familiar with the investigation said.
The pilot told air traffic controllers he had lost power from both engines, according to a recording posted on liveatc.net, a widely respected aviation monitoring website.
“We are returning back, sir, we have lost engines,” a man was heard saying in a recording released by the website.
The controller freed up both the airport’s runways but moments later the man called “Mayday! Mayday! Mayday!”.
There was no further communication from the plane, according to the tape, which could not immediately be authenticated.
“The last we heard from the pilot was that he has some technical problem,” the state carrier’s spokesman Abdullah H Khan said.
“He was told from the final approach that both the runways were ready where he can land, but the pilot decided that he wanted to do (a) go-round … It is a very tragic incident.”
Another senior civil aviation official told Reuters it appeared the plane had been unable to lower its undercarriage for the first approach due to a technical fault, but it was too early to determine the cause.
At least two passengers survived – including Bank of Punjab president Zafar Masood, the Sindh provincial government said.
The bank said he had suffered some fractures but was “conscious and responding well”.
Prime Minister Imran Khan tweeted that he was “shocked & saddened by the PIA crash”.
I thank world leaders for reaching out to condole over the tragic air crash and loss of precious lives. The people of Pakistan value this support and solidarity in our hour of grief.
— Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) May 22, 2020
“Immediate inquiry will be instituted. Prayers & condolences go to families of the deceased.”