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Updated 9:12 AM EST, Tue, Jan 05, 2021

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Pakistan Commercial Plane Crash Kills 48 People On Board

Pakistan International Airlines Flight PK 661 crashes near Abbottabad; 48 dead

(Photo : Flickr) Pakistan International Airlines Flight PK 661 crashed near Abbottabad and killed at least 48 individuals.

A Pakistan International Airlines plane with 48 people on board crashed near Abbottabad in northern Pakistan on Wednesday evening.

Traveling to the capital city, Islamabad, from the mountain resort of Chitral, a northern tourist destination near Pakistan-Afghanistan border, flight PK 661 hurtled just 50 kilometers short of its destination. Witnesses saw the craft suddenly tilting and going down before bursting into flames upon impact in Gug.

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Over 40 bodies were taken from the crash site and brought to a hospital In Abbottabad with the aid of hundreds of soldiers and rescue workers, who had to walk for an hour to reach the location.

"What locals from the crash scene are telling us, the passengers are all burned," Saeed Wazir, the deputy inspector general of police in Abbottabad district, said. "Smoke and fire are billowing from the debris. No one can go near it. People are helpless."

The Karachi-based airline released a statement saying 42 passengers, five crew members, and one ground engineer were on the aircraft, an ATR-42 twin propeller plane. The jet went down near the city of Havelian in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province after suffering a failure in one of its two turboprop engines just prior to the crash.

During an interview with the director general of the Civil Aviation Authority, Asim Suleiman, it was reported that minutes before the accident, the pilot radioed to air traffic controllers that the left engine had flared out. He added that they lost contact two minutes after the communication.

The aircraft involved had undergone regular maintenance with an A-check certification in October, PIA chairman Muhammad Azam Saigol said. "I think there was no technical error or human error," Saigol told a news conference.

Among the victims are famous 90s rockstar and Muslim evangelist Junaid Jamshed, two infants, and three foreigners.  

In the last six years, Pakistan's air industry has recorded mishaps that stir worries about the safety record of the country's carriers. In 2010, an Airblue crash near Islamabad took 150 lives. Two years after, an accident due to a bad weather involved Bhoja Air during its approach to the city's international airport, killing 127 people on board.

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