A plane belonging to Pakistan’s national carrier crashed on Wednesday with 48 people on board, apparently killing all of them, police and an airline spokesman said.
According to senior police officer Khurram Rasheed, the plane crashed in a village near the town of Havelian, located about 75 kilometers (45 miles) north-west of Islamabad. The small twin-propeller aircraft was travelling from the city of Chitral to Islamabad when it crashed shortly after takeoff.
Junaid Jamshed, wife among passengers
According to Daniyal Gilani, the spokesman for Pakistan International Airlines, the plane had lost touch with the control tower prior to the crash.
He said the plane was carrying 42 passengers, five crew members and a ground engineer. The cause of the crash was not immediately clear. Pervez George, the spokesman for the Civil Aviation Authority, told The Associated Press that a team of experts would determine the cause after retrieving the plane’s black box recorder.
“I don’t think there is any chance of finding any survivors,” he said. TV footage showed debris from the plane and a massive fire at the site of the crash.
The footage showed local villagers collecting the remains of the passengers and covering the bodies with cloths. In a statement, the military said that 36 bodies had been retrieved so far.
A spokesman for the Interior Ministry said a team had been dispatched to help identify the bodies through DNA tests. Authorities have released names of passengers among them Junaid Jamshed, a famous singer-turned-Islamic-preacher.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif expressed his “deep grief and sorrow” over the crash. In a statement, he said “the entire nation is deeply saddened over today’s unfortunate crash and shares the grief of the families who lost their dear ones.” Plane crashes are not uncommon in Pakistan.
About 150 people were killed in a crash in the hills of Islamabad in 2010. In 2015, a military helicopter carrying several diplomats also crashed in the country’s north, killing eight people.
A private plane also crashed near Islamabad due to bad weather in 2012, killing all 127 people on board.
At least 36 bodies were recovered by rescue teams so far. Ambulances were finding it difficult to get to the hilly area, and rescue personnel have to cover long distances on foot to collect dead bodies.
He said the mountainous terrain and darkness were making the rescue work extremely difficult. A state of emergency has been imposed on all the hospitals near the crash site.
Authorities have confirmed that the aircraft, ATR-42, carried five crew members, nine women, 31 men and two infants. Three foreigners are said to have boarded the ill-fated plane as well.
Khursheed Tanoli, deputy superintendent police Havelian said the plane crashed in a remote hilly area, miles away from residential areas. Captain Saleh Janjua was flying the aircraft while his brother, Ahmad Janjua, was the trainee First Officer.