ISLAMABAD, July 28 (Xinhua) -- A plane of a Pakistani private airliner Wednesday crashed into the Margalla Hills in the Pakistani capital Islamabad and killed all the 152 people aboard.
|A Pakistani man mourn his relatives after his death in a plane crash on the|
outskirts of Islamabad.(Xinhua/AFP Photo)
The Airblue Flight ED-202, flying from the country's southern port city of Karachi to Islamabad, came down in the Margalla Hills at about 9:45 a.m. (local time), aviation officials said.
The Margalla Hills, the foothills of the Himalayas, are a series of small-elevation hills sprawling on the northeast part of Islamabad.
There were 146 passengers, including at least 20 women and seven children with two infants, and six crew members killed in the plane crash.
Shortly after the incident happened, a large number of rescue teams have been dispatched to the crash site.
Rescue teams have so far recovered 105 bodies from the site of the crash, said Major General Nadeem Ahmed with the National Disaster Management Authority, adding that the search operation, which was once suspended due to heavy rains, will continue into the night time. He said rescue teams faced problems due to bad weather.
A statement from the Airblue, to which the crashed plane belonged, said that the plane "crashed during poor weather and thick fog". Islamabad had been receiving heavy monsoon rains over the past two days.
"We regret the loss of lives and are investigating the exact circumstances of this tragedy. This will be presented as soon as possible," said the Airblue statement on its website.
Chief of Pakistan's International Airlines, Ijaz Haroon, said that preliminary investigation suggests that the pilot error may have caused the crash.
Most of the people killed in the plane crash are local Pakistanis. There are two Americans and one Somalian reportedly killed in the crash too. The death of the two Americans has been confirmed by the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad. However, the embassy failed to give further details about the two killed.
The Civil Aviation Authority has ordered an investigation into the crash. A five-member inquiry board has been set up and is headed by Abdul Majid Khawaja, the Chairman of Aviation Safety Investigation Board, Air Commodore.
Aviation officials at the Karachi airport said that the plane was declared fit for flight.
Information Minister Qamar-uz-Zaman Kaira said that black box has been found which he said will help to determine real cause of the crash. He said the nation will be informed about the cause of the crash.
However, experts say that the black box will be sent to the United States for decoding and it will take at least two to three months before the report can come out.
The Islamabad-bound Airbus 320 took off the Karachi airport at 7:50 a.m.(local time) and was scheduled to land at the Islamabad's Benazir Bhutto International Airport at 9:30 a.m. The plane lost the contact with the control tower of the Islamabad airport at about 9:43 a.m.
A whole battalion of troops, in addition to seven military helicopters, are involved in the rescue work. The crash site is atop the mountains and rescue workers had to walk over an hour to reach the site, said officials.
Rescue workers had to cut down trees to build the pads for the landing of helicopters to lift the victims out of the crash site.
Two zoo keepers near the crash site told Xinhua that they saw the plane taking very low flight brushing the trees on the ground and the pilots were trying desperately to take the nose up but failed.
Another witness Muhammad Arshad, at Jinnah Supper, a main market near Margalla Hills, said the plane had lost balance, then it went down.
Shortly after the tragedy was reported, Pakistani Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani announced one-day mourning over the victims killed in the plane crash.
Doctors at a hospital in Islamabad said that the bodies recovered from the plane crash site are mutilated and DNA tests would be carried out for identification. All the hospitals have declared emergency after the tragedy happened.
Dr Wasim Khwaja, Executive Director at the Islamabad's main hospital, said 105 bodies have been received and only five of them have so far been identified. He said that DNA tests will take time and the relatives will have to wait for some time as it is a complicated process.
Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Gilani expressed their shock and grief over the crash and extended condolences to families of the victims.
Relatives of the victims in Islamabad and Karachi protested in delay of information and said they are not given correct information.
Large crowds of relatives and friends planned to receive their loved ones taking the flight at the Islamabad airport were shocked upon hearing the news and were eager to know fate of them.
The possibility of terrorism is not ruled out as the terrorist groups in Pakistan have threatened to blow airplanes several times during the last month or so. Interior Minister Rehman Malik said that aspect of sabotage activity will also be kept in mind during the inquiry.
List of the passengers on board of the plane was also released in Karachi and Islamabad.
Some 12 people who had confirmed their seats at the plane missed the flight, and were lucky to survive.
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