July 28, 2010

Passenger jet crashes in Pakistan, 152 on board

Islamabad (ANTARA News/Reuters) - A commercial Pakistani passenger plane with 152 people on board crashed in bad weather in hills near the capital, Islamabad, on Wednesday, officials said.

Five bodies had been recovered from the crash site in the forested Margalla hills near the city, an official said.

The jet, belonging to private airliner Airblue, lost contact with the control room of the Islamabad International Airport at 0443 GMT while flying from the southern port city of Karachi.

"We have sent fire engines to the site, so far five dead bodies have ben recovered," Imtiaz Elahi, chairman of the Capital Development Authority, told reporters.

The plane was carrying 146 passengers and six crewmen.

"We are gathering information. We have no more details," said Mubarik Shah, a spokesman for the state-run Civil Aviation Authority.

A thick blanket of cloud and smoke could be seen rising from the heavily wooded crash site. A helicopter hovered overhead and flames licked at trees and what appeared to be wreckage from the plane, television pictures showed.

"It was raining. I saw the plane flying very low from the window of my office," witness Khadim Hussain said.

Pakistan`s AAJ television showed columns of smoke billowing from the ground.

Rescue workers were making their way on foot with some difficulty through the difficult terrain.

The military said it had sent three helicopters to the site and troops had also been moved there.

Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani ordered authorities to control the fire immediately and rescue passengers.

Reports said there had been heavy monsoon rains in the area for at least a couple of days.

Airblue began operations in 2004 with a fleet of Airbus A320 and A321 aircraft, the company said on its website (www.airblue.com).

Forty-five people were killed when a passenger plane belonging to Pakistan International Airlines crashed near the central city of Multan in 2006.

Source : http://antaranews.com/en/news/1280311305/passenger-jet-crashes-in-pakistan-152-on-board

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