PIA plane crashes Junaid Jamshed, wife Nahya, Chitral DC, nine women among 48 dead

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PESHAWAR/ABBOTTABAD (DR. GHULAM MURTAZA.NEWS EDITOR HAMARI BAAT PAKISTAN) ATR plane going to Islamabad from Chitral falls on mountains near Havelian; doomed aircraft catches fire midair.

All the 48 persons on board were killed when a Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) flight carrying 42 passengers and six crew members from Chitral to Islamabad crashed on Wednesday near Havelian in the Abbottabad district, police and the airline authorities said.

Beside others, Junaid Jamshed, a well-known Pakistani pop star-turned-Muslim preacher, his wife Nahya, Deputy Commissioner Chitral Osama Ahmad Warraich, his wife and one-year-old daughter were on board the crashed aircraft, according to Daniyal Gilani, a PIA spokesman.

Junaid Jamshed, a singer in one of Pakistan’s first major rock bands in the 1990s, abandoned his singing career to join the Tableeghi Jamaat, which travels across Pakistan and abroad preaching Islam.

Also, two Austrians and a Chinese national were among those killed in the plane crash. Daniyal Gilani told The News that 42 passengers and six crew members were on board the PIA’s PK-0661 flight.

The plane took off at 3:50pm from Chitral and was supposed to land at the Islamabad Airport at around 4:40pm. He said there were no survivors from the crash.

A senior PIA official told The News that one of the engines had developed some technical fault. “It is too early to comment on the reason of the crash but one thing is obvious that one of its engines flamed out,” he said while wishing not to be named.

The PIA official said the plane crashed half-an-hour after its takeoff from Chitral. Dr Khurram Rasheed, Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP), Abbottabad, told The News that bodies of majority of the people on the plane had burnt beyond recognition.

“The bodies of only seven to eight people can be recognised. The remaining bodies were burnt beyond recognition,” said the Abbottabad police chief. He said that bodies of Deputy Commissioner Osama Ahmad Warraich and Junaid Jamshed were also among those that were burnt and unrecognisable.

Eyewitnesses said they sawthe plane flying at a low altitude and then catching fire in the air before it crashed in the mountains near the Ajeeya Gali Road close to the Karakoram Highway.

“The plane had caught fire while it was in the air and then it crashed in the mountains. When we arrived at the spot, its wreckage was spread all over the mountains and most of the bodies were burnt,” an eyewitness, Raja Hanif, told The News.

Though the PIA spokesman said six crew members were on board yet the airline issued a statement that put the number at five. The PIA crew members killed in the crash included Captain Saleh Janjua, first officer Ali Akram, trainee pilot Ahmad Janjua, and airhostesses Sadaf Farooq and Asma Adil.

The list of the passengers included two infants, nine females and 31 males. According to the passengers list on board the ill-fated plane, those killed included Abid Qaiser, Ahsan SS, Ahtiramul Haq, Aisha, Akbar Ali, Akhtar Mehmood, Amir Shaukat, Amna Ahmed, Mahrukh Ahmed, Asim Waqas, Ateeq Muhammad, Farah Naz, Farhat Aziz, Gohar Ali, Gul Horan, Haji Nawaz, Han Qiang, Harald Kessler, Hassan Ali, Nerwig Eichelbenger, Nahya Junaid, Junaid Jamshed, Mehmood Atif, Mirza Gul, Farhan Ali, Muhammad Ali Khan, Muhammad Khalid Masood, Muhammad Khan, Muhammad Khawar, Muhammad Nouman Shafique, Muhammad Takbeer Khan, Nisaruddin, Osama Ahmad Warraich, Rani Mehreen, Salman Zainul Abideen, Sami BA, Samina Gul, Shamshad Begum, Taiba Aziz, Taimoor Arshad, Umara Khan and Zahida Parveen.

Salman Zainul Abideen is the son of a former MPA the late Zainul Abideen, and Haji Takbeer Khan is a businessman from Chitral. The District Government Chitral promptly announced three-day mourning. All the government departments in Chitral will remain closed today to mourn the tragedy.

Meanwhile, the Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) dispatched its teams to the Ayub Medical College, Abbottabad, which with the support of the Nadra’s special teams would identify the bodies through biometric system and hand them over to their families.

The Emergency Rescue Service 1122 rushed 70 of its employees from its Abbottabad and Mardan offices along with six ambulances, three fire vehicles and two recovery vehicles to the site of the crash in Havelian. A statement said the rescue mission was mounted on the orders of the Rescue 1122 Director General Dr Asad Ali Khan. It added that its rescue team walked on foot through the mountainous path in Havelian to the site of the incident and began retrieving and shifting the remains of those killed. It said the rescuers had also taken fire-extinguishing equipment and searchlights.

This is the third plane crash in Pakistan in recent years.  In 2010, a passenger plane crashed in heavy rain near Islamabad, killing all 152 people on board.  Two years later, a plane operated by a private Pakistani company, with 127 people on board, crashed near Islamabad. All onboard were killed.  Shah Murad Baig and Javed Iqbal also contributed to the story from Chitral and Ghazi.

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