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All 48 people aboard killed after plane crashes in northern Pakistan


12-08-2016 06:17 BJT

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ISLAMABAD, Dec. 8 (Xinhua) -- Rescue teams have retrieved all 48 bodies from the wreckage of a Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) plane, which crashed in the country's north mountainous area on Wednesday, officials said.

Photo taken on Dec. 7, 2016, shows a helicopter flying over the site of a plane crash in northwest Pakistan

Photo taken on Dec. 7, 2016, shows a helicopter flying over the site of a plane crash in northwest Pakistan's Havelian. A passenger plane of Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) with 47 people onboard crashed in the country's northwest Havelian area on Wednesday, officials said. (Xinhua/Stringer)

Azam Saigol, chairman of the PIA airline, said the plane was carrying 48 people, including 42 passengers, five crewmembers and one ground engineer.

According to the PIA's website, two Austrians and one Chinese national were also on board the ill-fated plane. The Chinese embassy has confirmed that a Chinese man was killed in the tragedy.

PIA Chairman Saigol said each passenger had an insurance of 5 million rupees (about 47,000 U.S. dollars) while the airline will bear the expenses of coffin, funeral and give a subsidy of half a million rupees (about 4,700 U.S. dollars).

He said the ATR-42 aircraft operating as flight PK-661 took off from the country's north Chitral airport for the capital of Islamabad at 3:40 p.m. local time (1040 GMT).

"At 4:14 p.m. we received a call from the pilot at Islamabad airport control tower informing us that he lost control over one of the two engines of the plane. We told him to land at the runway once his vision is clear, but at 4:16 p.m. (1116 GMT) we lost the contact with him," the chairman said.

The plane was some 35 miles away from Islamabad airport when the pilot contacted the control room.

Saigol said at about 4:30 p.m. they received the information that local people in the northern Havelian town saw the plane crashing into the hills.

He ruled out the reports of any human error and said that things will be clearer when investigation teams will give their report after completing the probe.

The Franch-made aircraft was manufactured in 2007 and inducted in the PIA fleet in the same year.

Saigol said the plane's black box had been found and will be sent to its manufacturing company in France for decoding.

The Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), media wing of the Pakistani army said that two helicopters, 500 soldiers and doctors took part in the rescue operation.

All the bodies were being shifted to Ayub medical complex Abbottabad. Doctor Manan, deputy medical superintendent at the hospital, said all of them were burnt beyond recognition as the plane caught fire after the crash.

He said the bodies will be identified by biometric verification carried out by National Database Registration Authority. A mobile team from the agency already reached the hospital via helicopters provided by the Interior Ministry.

After the identification process, the bodies will be airlifted to hospitals in Islamabad and will be handed over to the relatives.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif expressed sorrow over the incident and directed the National Disaster Management Authority to mobilize all the resources to facilitate the relatives of the crash victims.

The authority has formed an emergency desk at the Abbottabad hospital to provide information about the victims.

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