BELGRADE – A Pakistan International Airlines plane with up to 47 people on board has crashed while en route from Chitral to Islamabad. The flight crashed in Havelian, which is around 75 kilometers (45 miles) northwest of Islamabad.
“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 a short while ago,” PIA spokesperson Daniyal Gilani tweeted.
In a statement from the airline, PIA also said their “emergency response center has been activated” and “all resources are being mobilized.” Troops and army helicopter have also been dispatched to the crash site, according to Radio Pakistan.
It’s not yet known what caused the crash, with initial concern raised after the plane lost contact with ground control. Other reports suggest engine problems.
“All of the bodies are burned beyond recognition. The debris is scattered,” government official Taj Muhammad Khan told Reuters. Khan, who was at the crash site, said the aircraft was on fire before it hit the ground.
It’s reported rescue crews have been sent to the crash site, including troops and helicopters.
“I don’t think there is any chance of finding any survivor,”said Pervez George, spokesman for Civil Aviation Authority.
The military’s media wing ISPR told reporters that 21 bodies had so far been recovered from the crash site.
A number of local outlets report that popular Pakistani singer and preacher Junaid Jamshed was on board the flight. Actor and singer Fakhar-e-Alam tweeted that his “friend & neighbour Junaid Jamshed was indeed on the unfortunate flight. Allah have mercy.”
Pakistani news outlet Dawn tweeted an apparent list of passengers on board the flight, including Jamshed. Deputy Commissioner of Chitral, Osama Ahmad Warraich, along with his wife are also reported to have been on the flight.
In 2006 all 45 people on board a PIA flight were killed when two engines failed after take-off from Multan International Airport.
All but nine PIA planes were banned from flying into European cities by the EU in 2007 following safety concerns over the ageing aircraft. Later that year the ban was lifted and PIA leased seven new Airbuses.