Death toll hits 36 in Pakistani plane crash

Photo Credit: Sputnik International

The death toll hit 36 in Pakistani plane crash on Wednesday and was expected to grow as rescue workers searched the site.

According to the report, at least 48 people crashed in northern Pakistan earlier in the day.

The small ATR-42 aircraft crashed in the town of Hawalian in northern Pakistan, some 75 kilometers north of the capital.

According to officials and Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) spokesperson, Danyal Gilani, the aircraft took off for Islamabad from the tourist resort of Chitral near the Afghan border.

“We deeply regret to announce that a PIA aircraft ATR-42 (AP-BHO) crashed near Hawalian,’’ Gilani said.

According to the report, 42 passengers, five crew members and one ground engineer were on board flight number PK661.

Victims of the crash include 31 men, nine women and two infants’ three foreign nationals whose country of origin is not known yet, were also among the passengers.

The aircraft had lost contact with the control tower moments before the crash.

“An inquiry has been ordered into the incident,” Gilani said.

Aviation Secretary, Muhammad Irfan Elahi, said the cause of the crash was not yet known and that the search is still on for the plane’s black box.

Dead bodies are being taken to the Ayyub Teaching Hospital, Abbottaba, about 20 kilometers from the crash site, said Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Home Secretary Shakil Qadir Khan.

He said that a biometric team of the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) had been directed to head to the hospital to help with the identification of the dead.

“We have received 20 unrecognised dead bodies, Muhammad Arif from the Ayyub of the Teaching Hospital said.

Junaid Jamshed, a major pop star from the 1980s who has since become an Islamic preacher and his wife were among the passengers.

Jamshed was on a preaching mission for the last 10 days in Chitral, his family said.

Hawalian resident, Sabookh Syed, shared photographs of huge flames coming out of the wreckage on a mountain slope on his Face book page.

The ISPR, the military’s media wing, reported that 36 bodies have been recovered from the wreckage.

Local police officials Khursheed Tanoli said that there might not be any survivors.

The Pakistani military mobilised troops from the nearest cantonment to take part in rescue operation.

At least 500 army troops including doctors and paramedics, along with necessary vehicles, ambulances are taking part in the operation, the ISPR said.

Chitral is located in the northern province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and is popular with tourists both for its natural beauty and its history, which includes a link to Alexander the Great.

ATR planes are for short flights from hilly areas to Islamabad and other cities.

In 2012, all 127 people on board Bhoja Air, a small private airline, traveling from Karachi to Islamabad were killed when the plane crashed in the approach area.

In 2010, in Pakistan’s worst-ever air disaster, an Airblue Airbus crashed before landing in Islamabad, killing all 152 people on board.


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