A Pakistan International Airlines plane with 48 people on board, including a famous former pop singer, crashed near Abbottabad in northern Pakistan on Wednesday, government officials and the airline said.
According to senior police officer Khurram Rasheed, the small twin-propeller aircraft was travelling from the city of Chitral to Islamabad. It crashed shortly after takeoff. He said the rescue work is over. They had transported the remains of the passengers to a local hospital, where doctors were performing DNA tests to identify the victims.
A pilot made a mayday call, saying he had lost control of one of the two engines, according to Azam Saigol, PIA's chairman. "We were confident that the plane could land with one working engine." Saigol said. "This is a tragedy. We are not absolving ourselves of any connection to this incident."
According to Daniyal Gilani, the spokesman for Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), 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. Two Austrians and a Chinese citizen were among the dead, he said.
PIA has released names of passengers, who included Junaid Jamshed, a famous singer-turned-Islamic-preacher. “There are no survivors. All passengers and members of crew are dead,” Azam Sehgal, chairman of the PIA told a news conference at the Islamabad airport late Wednesday. He said the plane’s black box recorder had been found.
Pakistan's air industry had had a mixed record recently. About 150 people were killed in a crash near Islamabad in 2010. Last year a military helicopter carrying several diplomats also crashed in the country's north, killing eight people. And a Bhoja Air flight passenger plane crashed near Islamabad due to bad weather in 2012. It killed all 127 people on board.