ISLAMABAD (Geo News): A Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) carrying 47 people crashed Wednesday on a domestic flight from the mountainous northern city of Chitral to Islamabad, aviation authorities confirmed.
“A plane has crashed and locals told us that it is on fire,” said Saeed Wazir, a senior local police official. “Police and rescue officials are on the way but have yet not reached on site.”
“Rescue teams are reaching the scene of the crash, and then we will know more,” Civil Aviation Authority spokesman Pervez George said.
According Civil Aviation Authority officials, the ATR-42 turboprop plane with 47 passengers went missing from the radar near the town of Havelian in Abbottabad district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province while it was on its way to Islamabad.
The plane took off from Chitral around 3:00PM but communication with the control tower was broken around 4:30PM, shortly before it was about to arrive at its destination.
CAA sources confirmed a mayday call from the pilot to the control tower shortly before it lost communication with the plane.
“We regret to inform that PIA’s ATR-42 aircraft operating as PK-661, carrying around 40 persons lost its contact with control tower on its way from Chitral to Islamabad a short while ago. All resources are being mobilised to locate the aircraft. Media will be kept informed as situation develops,” said the PIA in a statement.
The flight crew included pilot captain Saaleh Janjua, and first officers Ali Akram and Ahmed Janjua.
Deputy Commissioner Chitral Osama Ahmad Warraich was also on board the ill-fated PIA flight. Among the passengers were nine women and two infants.
Eyewitnesses said they had seen a plane crash in a hilly area near Havelian, near the Ordinance factory. Clouds of smoke could be seen rising from the area of the reported crash.
The Inter-Services Public Relations said that army contingents and helicopters have also been dispatched for rescue operations.
Pictures from the area, which is about an hour away from Havelian, showed the plane’s wreckage which had scattered over a large area. Flames and smoke could also be seen rising from the wreckage.
Junaid Jamshed, wife also on ill-fated plane
According to a list of passengers issued by PIA, popular personality Junaid Jamshed and his wife were also on the ill-fated plane.
Jamshed, a former musician turned religious preacher and ‘naat-khwaan’, was in Chitral and his name was among the list of passengers on board the flight. According to list, Jamshed was on the seat 27-C.
Jamshed’s brother has confirmed that Jamshed was onboard the ill-fated plane.
Pakistan has had a poor air safety track record in recent years.
The country’s last major air disaster was in 2015 when a military helicopter crashed in a remote northern valley, killing eight people including the Norwegian, Philippine and Indonesian envoys and the wives of Malaysian and Indonesian envoys.
In 2012, a Bhoja Airline plane, a Boeing 737 carrying 121 passengers and six crew members, crashed near Islamabad just before touchdown.
The worst aviation tragedy on Pakistani soil came in July 2010 when an Airbus 321 passenger jet operated by the private airline Airblue crashed into hills overlooking Islamabad. The flight was coming in from Karachi. All 152 people on board were killed in the accident, which occurred amid heavy rain and poor visibility.
Another deadly civilian plane crash involving a Pakistani jet came to pass in 1992 when a PIA Airbus A300 crashed into a cloud-covered hillside on its approach to the Nepalese capital Kathmandu, killing 167 people.
The PIA said an emergency response center has been activated and can be accessed at following phone numbers for updates: