Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Pakistan Plane Crash in Remote Hills

More than a hundred people are feared dead after a passenger plane crashed into hills outside the Pakistani capital Islamabad today.
Seven people have so far been found alive, while at least 45 bodies have been recovered from the wreckage.

Rescuers are battling against heavy rain in the Margalla Hills area to try to reach the scene of the domestic Airblue plane which had 152 people on board.

A Civil Aviation Authority official said 146 passengers and six crew members were on the twin-engined A321 Airbus, whose wings were made in the UK. The exact cause of the crash, which happened at 7.50am local time, is still not known.
A list of the passengers on board the flight has been released but so far it is not known how many foreigners were involved.
Mohammed Usman, an official at the Benazir Bhutto International Airport, where the plane was due to land, said dozens of distraught relatives of passengers had gathered, desperate to get information about their loved ones.

Airblue spokesman Raheel Ahmed said: 'Apparently the cause of the crash is bad weather, but we leave that to the investigators.
'We are now preoccupied with rescue work and striving to take care of the relatives of the passengers who were on board.'
Interior Minister Rehman Malik said that at least five injured people had been taken to hospital by helicopter.
'We are trying to get details about the passengers. It's a big tragedy. It's really a big tragedy,' Malik told Express TV.
'Rescue teams have reached the area. They are fully equipped.

'They are scanning the entire area. Those wounded or survivors are being provided assistance and arrangements are have been made to take them to hospitals.'
Amir Ahmed, the city's deputy commissioner, told the ARY news channel that rescuers had found at least seven survivors.

'This is a miracle as we had been briefed that there might not be any survivors,' he said.
Civil aviation spokesman Pervez George said the flight took off from Karachi, Pakistan's financial capital, at 7.45am (2.45am GMT) and had been preparing to land in Islamabad when it crashed.
'The plane was about to land at the Islamabad airport when it lost contact with the control tower, and later we learned that the plane had crashed,' he said.

'When it was preparing to land, it crashed in the Margalla Hills.'
Saqlain Altaf said that he was on a family outing in the hills when he saw the plane looking unsteady in the air.

'The plane had lost balance, and then we saw it going down,' he added.
Thick smoke could be seen rising from an inaccessible region in the densely wooded hills, where helicopters circled overheaded and rescue services dispatched ambulances to the nearest roads.
Pakistani news channels showed what appeared to be wreckage of the plane as a helicopter hovered above the heavily forested hills to assess the situation.

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