07 Dec. 2016
A Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) passenger domestic flight PK 661, ATR-42 Turboprop plane with 47 people on-board crashed this afternoon, Wednesday 7th December 2016. Ill-fated aircraft was flying from the mountainous northern city of Chitral to Islamabad, aviation authorities confirmed according to Pakistan media.
PIA issued a statement on the accident “We regret to inform that PIA’s ATR-42 aircraft operating as PK-661, carrying around 40 persons lost its contact with control tower on its way from Chitral to Islamabad a short while ago. All resources are being mobilised to locate the aircraft. Media will be kept informed as situation develops,”
“Rescue teams are reaching the scene of the crash, and then we will know more,” Civil Aviation Authority spokesman Pervez George said.
The plane took off from Chitral around 3:00 PM local time but communication with the control tower was broken around 4:30 PM (0230 PM Qatar Time). CAA sources confirmed a mayday call from the pilot to the control tower shortly before it lost communication with the plane.
The flight crew included pilot captain Saaleh Janjua, and first officers Ali Akram and Ahmed Janjua. Among passengers include renowned Pakistan Pop-Star turned preacher Junaid Jamshed and his family. According to the passengers list, his seat number is 27-C.
Deputy Commissioner Chitral Osama Ahmad Warraich was also on board the ill-fated PIA flight. Among the passengers were nine women and two infants.
Eyewitnesses said they had seen a plane crash in a hilly area near Havelian, near the Ordinance factory. Clouds of smoke could be seen rising from the area of the reported crash.
The Inter-Services Public Relations said that army contingents and helicopters have also been dispatched for rescue operations.
Pictures from the area, which is about an hour away from Havelian, showed the plane’s wreckage which had scattered over a large area. Flames and smoke could also be seen rising from the wreckage.
The country’s last major air disaster was in 2015 when a military helicopter crashed in a remote northern valley, killing eight people including the Norwegian, Philippine and Indonesian envoys and the wives of Malaysian and Indonesian envoys.
In 2012, a private airline ‘Bhoja Airline’ Boeing 737 carrying 121 passengers and six crew members, crashed near Islamabad just before touchdown.
The worst aviation tragedy on Pakistani soil came in July 2010 when an Airbus 321 passenger jet operated by another private airline ‘Air Blue’ crashed into hills overlooking Islamabad. The flight was coming in from Karachi. All 152 people on board were killed in the accident, which occurred amid heavy rain and poor visibility.
Another deadly civilian plane crash involving a Pakistani jet came to pass in 1992 when a PIA Airbus A-300 crashed into a cloud-covered hillside on its approach to the Nepalese capital Kathmandu, killing 167 people.