Pakistan opens probe into plane crash


By Asif Shahzad and Munir Ahmed, AP

GUG, Pakistan–Pakistani military helicopters on Thursday ferried remains of plane crash victims to the capital, Islamabad, as aviation authorities said they opened a probe into the crash that killed 47 passengers and crew the day before in the country’s northwest.

The small twin-propeller aircraft was traveling from the scenic mountain resort city of Chitral to Islamabad on Wednesday when one of its engines failed shortly after takeoff and crashed in the hillside village of Gug in the district of Abbottabad, according to Pervez George of the Civil Aviation Authority.

The plane belonged to the Pakistani national carrier, the Pakistan International Airlines, and had 42 passengers and five crew members on board, PIA spokesman Daniyal Gilani said. Plane ‘was about to hit village’ Witnesses said they saw the plane suddenly tilting and going down, then bursting into flames upon crashing in Gug. The village is located next to another, Saddha Batolni, from where residents also joined the rescue work.

“The plane was swaying … then I saw it hitting the hill with a loud bang,” said Chaudhry Rustam, a villager who rushed to the crash site. Then, thick black smoke was seen billowing from the debris, he added.

Dozens of villagers helped retrieve the remains.

Zainab Nazakat said she was preparing dinner when she saw the plane coming down, hitting several trees and a water supply tank on an elevated ground.

“When we lifted one of its wings, there was a heap of body remains under it,” said social worker Jabir bin Khayan.

Reporters at the site on Thursday saw the plane’s wreckage strewn over a 2-kilometer radius, with clothes, shoes and passenger bags scattered about. Fall of a Star Among those killed in the crash was Junaid Jamshed, a popular pop-singer-turned-Islamic-preacher who went to Chitral along with his wife, his family said. The couple’s remains were to be taken to the port city of Karachi after identification.