Pakistan passenger jet crashes after takeoff with 48 people on board

A Pakistan International Airlines flight carrying 48 passengers and crew crashed soon after takeoff on Wednesday while en route to Islamabad from the northern city of Chitral, a spokesman and police officials said.

According to senior police officer Khurram Rasheed, the plane crashed in a village near the town of Havelian, located about 45 miles northwest from the Pakistani capital. The small twin-propeller aircraft was travelling from the city of Chitral to Islamabad when it crashed shortly after takeoff.

The airline said there were 42 passengers, five crew members and one ground engineer on board.

It was not immediately clear what may have caused the crash. A local police official, Khursheed Tanoli, told state-run Pakistan Television that the plane went down in a village in the northwest and that rescuers were trying to reach the site of the crash. The army reportedly sent troops and helicopters to the crash site.

Pervez George, the spokesman for Civil Aviation Authority, told The Associated Press said: "I don't think there is any chance of finding any survivor.”

In a statement, the military said that 36 bodies had been retrieved so far.

Shortly before the crash was confirmed, airlines spokesperson Daniyal Gilani said the ATR-42 aircraft operating as PK-661 carrying around 40 passengers and crew lost touch Wednesday with the control tower.

State-run Pakistan Television showed a huge fire rising from the site of the crash. Villagers were seen standing near the site.

Taj Muhammad Kahn, a local government official who as at the site of the crash, said it was unlikely there were any survivors from the crash.

“All of the bodies are burned beyond recognition. The debris is scattered,” he told Reuters, adding that the plane crashed in a mountainous area and was on fire before it hit the ground.

There were no immediate details on casualties but Pakistan’s interior ministry dispatched a team with experts on identifying bodies through DNA tests.

The flight departed from Chitral around 3:30 p.m. local time and was expected to land at Islamabad’s Benazir Bhutto International Airport at around 4:40 p.m. local time.

A Muslim cleric who had rocketed to fame as a Pakistani pop star was one of the passengers, according to an official. The cleric, Junaid Jamshed, had released a string of chart-topping albums as a solo artist and a member of the group Vital Signs during the 1980s and 1990s.

Pakistani 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."

( Source )