The country was left in a state of shock and horror after a Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) flight carrying 47 people crashed on Wednesday en route to Islamabad from the northern city of Chitral.
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Junaid Jamshed, his family and Chitral Deputy Commissioner Osama Warraich were aboard the flight. The airline said the PIA’s ATR-42 aircraft lost contact with a control tower on its way from Chitral.
PIA spokesperson Daniyal Gilani earlier said the aircraft was missing and efforts to locate it were on. We regret to inform that PIA’s ATR-42 aircraft operating as PK-661, carrying around 40 persons, lost its contact with the control tower on its way from Chitral to Islamabad,” Gilani said. The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) put the number of people onboard at 47. The plane manifest shows there were 3 men, 10 women and two infants onboard, including singer-cum-evangelist Junaid Jamshed and his family, as well as three foreigners. The flight departed from Chitral at around 3:30pm and was expected to land at Islamabad’s Benazir Bhutto International Airport at around 4:40pm, but crashed in Havelian near Abbottabad shortly after a distress call was sent to the control tower.
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A government official on the scene told the media that there were no survivors. “All of the bodies are burned beyond recognition. The debris is scattered,” Taj Muhammad Khan, a government official based in the Havelian region, told the media. Taj Muhammad Khan, who was at the site of the crash, added that witnesses told him the aircraft had crashed in a mountainous area, and it was on fire before it hit the ground. The terrain is rugged and rescue and recovery operations were being hindered because of nightfall and the cold. Ambulances were unable to reach the site of the accident, as the aircraft crashed on a mountainous terrain. Junaid Jamshed was in Chitral for a Tableeghi mission and was returning to Islamabad when the aircraft crashed. He was scheduled to deliver the Friday sermon at parliament’s mosque.
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Besides Captain S Janjua, who was flying the aircraft, the crew included First Officer Ali Akram, Trainee Pilot Ahmed Janjua and airhostesses Sadaf Farooq and Asma Adil, sources said. The two air marshals aboard were identified as Ahsan and Samee. Meanwhile, the rescuers of the Pakistan Army and volunteers recovered 40 bodies from the debris of the plane. However, according to the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), rescue work at the crash site was in progress and 36 bodies had been recovered from the debris. It said that 500 troops along with necessary equipment and machinery were engaged in the search operation. On the other hand, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan directed the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) to dispatch their teams to Abbottabad where the PIA plane crashed.The FIA team will assist investigators in the initial probe, while NADRA officials would help identify the unfortunate passengers.