Thursday, July 29, 2010

152 killed in Pak plane crash

A plane carrying 152 people crashed near Islamabad on Wednesday, killing everyone on board. The plane operated by private carrier Airblue slammed into the Margalla Hills near the Pakistan capital Islamabad. The plane was traveling from Karachi to Islamabad, and was preparing to land in cloudy and rainy conditions when it crashed. The exact cause of the crash is unknown at this time. A passenger jet crashed into the hills surrounding Pakistan's capital amid poor weather Wednesday, killing all 152 people on board and blazing a path of devastation strewn with body parts and twisted metal wreckage. 146 passengers were on the flight along with six crew members. Local TV footage showed twisted metal wreckage hanging from trees and scattered across the ground on a bed of broken branches. Fire was visible and smoke rose from the scene as a helicopter hovered above. The army said it was sending special troops to aid the search. The search effort was hampered by muddy conditions and smoldering wreckage that authorities were having trouble extinguishing by helicopter. The cause of the crash was not immediately clear, but Defense Minister Chaudhry Ahmed Mukhtar said the government does not suspect terrorism. The plane left the southern city of Karachi at 7:45 a.m. for a two-hour scheduled flight to Islamabad and was trying to land during cloudy and rainy weather. Airblue is a private service based in Karachi, Pakistan's largest city, and Wednesday's flight was believed to be carrying mostly Pakistanis. Rescue workers scouring the heavily forested hills recovered 50 bodies from the wreckage. The plane was about to land at the Islamabad airport when it lost contact with the control tower. The crash site covered a large area on both sides of the hills, including a section behind Faisal Mosque, one of Islamabad's most prominent landmarks, and not far from the Daman-e-Koh resort. At the Islamabad airport, hundreds of friends and relatives of those on board the flight swarmed ticket counters desperately seeking information. A large cluster of people also surrounded a passenger list posted near the Airblue ticket counter. The Airblue has announced an investigation into the cause of the crash. The plane had no known technical issues, and the pilots did not send any emergency signals. Officials at first thought it was a small plane, but later revised that. The Pakistan Airline Pilot Association said the plane appeared to have strayed off course, possibly because of the poor weather. A spokesman for the airline said an investigation would be launched into the cause of the crash. He said the plane had no known technical issues, and the pilots did not send any emergency signals. The last major plane crash in Pakistan was in July 2006 when a Fokker F-27 twin-engine aircraft operated by Pakistan International Airlines slammed into a wheat field on the outskirts of the central Pakistani city of Multan, killing all 45 people on board. Airblue flies within Pakistan as well as internationally to the United Arab Emirates, Oman and the United Kingdom. Meanwhile, India has expressed grief over the death of the 152 people in the plane crash.


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