Security personnel search for victims in the wreckage of a PIA aircraft after it crashed in a residential area in Karachi. AFP
One of the two people to survive a plane crash in Pakistan that killed 97 people has described jumping from the burning wreckage of the aircraft after it hurtled into a residential neighbourhood.
The Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) plane came down among houses on Friday afternoon after both engines failed as it approached Karachi airport, the airline said.
Its wings sliced through rooftops, sending flames and plumes of smoke into the air as it crashed onto a street, sparking a rescue operation that lasted into the night.
Commercial flights in the country resumed only days ago, ahead of the Muslim holiday of Eid Al Fitr, after planes were grounded during a lockdown over the coronavirus pandemic.
Firefighters spray water on the wreckage of a PIA aircraft after it crashed at a residential area in Karachi. AFP
"After it hit and I regained conciousness, I saw fire everywhere and no one was visible," Mohammad Zubair, 24, said from his hospital bed in a video clip circulated on social media.
"There were cries of children, adults and elderly. The cries were everywhere and everybody was trying to survive. I undid my seat belt and I saw some light and tried to walk towards it. Then I jumped out."
Zubair had suffered burns but was in a stable condition, a health ministry official said.
The airline named the other survivor as the president of the Bank of Punjab, Zafar Masud.
The health ministry for Sindh province, where the southern port city of Karachi is located, on Saturday confirmed that all 97 bodies recovered from the crash site had been on the plane.
At least 19 had been identified so far, while DNA testing was being carried out at the University of Karachi to help name the rest of the victims.
Volunteers carry the body of a plane crash victim at the site of a crash in Karachi. AP
A local hospital earlier reported it had received the bodies of people killed on the ground.
The disaster comes as Pakistanis prepare to celebrate the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan and the beginning of Eid, with many travelling to their homes in cities and villages.
A PIA spokesperson said air traffic control lost contact with the plane travelling from Lahore to Karachi just after 2:30 pm (0930 GMT).
The pilot made a desperate mayday call after announcing "we have lost engines", according to an audio recording confirmed by the airline.
A combo photo of the ill-fated PIA's crew members.
PIA chief executive Arshad Mahmood Malik described the Airbus A320 as one of the safest planes.
"Technically, operationally everything was in place," he said, promising an investigation.
Aviation Minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan said the captain, Sajjad Gull, had been described by the airline as a senior A320 pilot with extensive flight experience.
The plane had first entered service in 2004 and was acquired by PIA a decade later and had logged around 47,100 flight hours, Airbus said in a statement.
Residents were the first to sift through the charred and twisted wreckage strewn in search of survivors, with witnesses reporting the cries of a man hanging from the plane's emergency exit door.
Rescue workers move a body from the site after the crash. AFP
Sarfraz Ahmed, a firefighter at the crash site, told AFP that rescuers had pulled bodies from the aircraft still wearing seatbelts.
Residents near the scene recounted how the walls of their homes shook before a big explosion erupted as the aircraft slammed into the neighbourhood.
"I was coming from the mosque when I saw the plane tilting on one side. It was so low that the walls of my house were trembling," said 14-year-old Hassan.
Another resident, Mudassar Ali, said he "heard a big bang and woke up to people calling for the fire brigade".
An AFP reporter saw charred bodies being loaded into ambulances.
The crash site was so congested that the rescue workers had to break portion of a wall to reach the crashed plane. Authorities suspended power as overhead electricity wires and a power grid were creating hurdles in the movement of rescue cranes.
After the aircraft reportedly called off an earlier attempt to land and went around for a second attempt, a controller radioed the pilot of flight 8303 that he appeared to be turning left, suggesting he was off-course.
The news has led to an outpouring of grief: the tragedy of the incident compounded by the fact that the festival of Eid was just around the corner, and many of the victims were likely returning to their families to celebrate.
Mayor Wasim Akhtar said at least five or six houses were destroyed in the crash of the domestic flight operated by PIA. He said all those on board died, but two civil aviation officials later said that at least two people survived the crash.
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Improving technology and digitalisation have sure contributed to the coping of countries and governments with the one-year-old Novel Coronavirus pandemic. Yet, the most compelling realisation is that health is the key to happiness, dependent on one’s attitude and perspective in life; and for which each and every individual must be responsible for.