Pakistani plane with 127 on board crashes, no survivors


Islamabad : A passenger plane carrying 127 people crashed in stormy weather and burst into flames while approaching Pakistan’s Islamabad airport Friday evening. There were no reports of survivors.

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The commercial airliner, Bhoja Air 737, on its maiden flight, was descending for landing when it crashed a few miles from Islamabad airport, near Chaklala airbase, Rawalpindi.

There were 118 passengers and nine crew on-board. However, some reports say there were 131 people on board.

The B4-213 was coming from the port city of Karachi to Islamabad when it crashed into a residential area.

The Bhoja Airlines’ officials said that the plane was scheduled to land at the Islamabad airport at 6.45 p.m.. The plane had left Karachi airport at 5 p.m., Xinhua reported.

The Pakistan Civil Aviation Authorities (CAA) said that the crash was apparently due to bad weather.

Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani expressed deep sorrow over the tragedy and ordered investigation into the incident, Geo News reported.

According to rescuers, the wreckage area – around one sq km – was scattered with mangled bodies, severed body parts, burnt luggage, and parts of the fuselage strewn all over.

Local residents said they could see flame rising from the crash site.

An emergency was declared at hospitals in Islamabad and nearby Rawalpindi city and rescue teams and ambulances were rushed to the site.

Saifur Rehman, from a police rescue team, said the plane came down in Hussain Abad village, two miles from the main Islamabad highway.

According to sources in the CAA, the flight was given clearance to land at Islamabad’s Benazir Bhutto International Airport, but it lost contact with the control tower minutes before the crash.

“Fire erupted after the crash. The wreckage was on fire, the plane is completely destroyed. We came with teams of firefighters and searchlights and more rescuers are coming,” Rehman told Geo television.

A local resident told Geo News, the plane was already on fire in the midair and seemed like a ball of fire coming at us.

The plane fell on top of houses in the village toppling building before hitting the ground, said eyewitnesses, but there were no reports of people on the village dying.

According to Geo News, Bhoja Airlines had reportedly bought the 27.4 years old aircraft from Shaheen Airlines after it was scrapped by the latter for its compromised flight-worthiness.

Bhoja Airline officials have not commented.

President Zardari has ordered that a chartered plane be arranged to bring relatives of the crash victims to Islamabad.