ISLAMABAD, May 24, 2020, CNN. Rescue crews have retrieved the data recorder from the Pakistan International Airlines plane that crashed on Friday, killing at least 97 passengers and crew members, CNN reported.
The recorder, or “black box,” was found at the crash site in the southern Pakistani city of Karachi on Saturday, according to PIA spokesman Abdullah Khan.
Two passengers survived but 97 bodies have been recovered from the scene, Pakistan Armed Forces spokesman Major General Babar Iftikhar said earlier on Saturday.
The jet went down in a residential area, but the plane did not hit any buildings and no one on the ground appears to have been killed, PIA CEO Air Vice Marshal Arshad Malik added.
Iftikhar said army troops, rangers and social welfare organizations have been assisting in the search.
He added: “97 bodies recovered. 2 passengers survived. 25 affected houses cleared, their residents accommodated at various places with the assistance of Civil Administration.”
The plane took off from Lahore and was due to land at 2:30 p.m. local time in Karachi but went missing from the radar, PIA spokesman Abdullah Khan told CNN.
The pilot on board told air traffic control in Karachi that he had lost engines, before the plane crashed on Friday.
“We are proceeding direct, we have lost engines,” the pilot can be heard saying about the plane’s approach, in an audio recording of aircraft communications obtained by CNN from a Pakistani government source.
On the recording, air traffic control asks the pilot to confirm that the plane will have a belly landing, a situation where an aircraft lands without deploying its landing gear.
The pilot’s response is inaudible. It is unclear why air traffic control was discussing such a landing.
A few seconds later the pilot can be heard giving several mayday calls, followed by a response from air traffic control saying both runways are clear to land. The audio then cuts off.
Khan confirmed the authenticity of the recording.
“[The pilot] had been told both landing strips were available for his use but he preferred to use the go-around landing route, we are looking into the technical issue. Our prayers for the lives that have been lost,” Khan said earlier on Friday.
Sophia Saifi reported from Islamabad, and Rob Picheta wrote from London. Adeel Raja, Laura Smith-Spark and Sandi Sidhu contributed reporting.