A Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) flight PK-661 carrying over 40 passengers crashed on the way to Islamabad from Chitral on Wednesday.
A government official on the scene told Reuters that there are unlikely to be any survivors.
“All of the bodies are burned beyond recognition. The debris is scattered,” Taj Muhammad Khan, a government official based in the Havelian region, told Reuters.
Khan, who was at the site of the crash, added that witnesses told him “the aircraft has crashed in a mountainous area, and before it hit the ground it was on fire.”
Chitral airport sources confirm singer-cum-evangelist Junaid Jamshed, his family, and Deputy Commissioner Chitral Osama Warraich were on board the flight and are feared to be among the casualties.
Junaid Jamshed was in Chitral for a Tableeghi mission and was returning to Islamabad when the aircraft crashed. Jamshed was a prominent member of Pakistan’s Tableeghi Jamaat, a global Islamic revivalist movement with an aim to urge Muslims to return to primary Sunni Islam.
There were 31 men, 9 women and 2 infants on board the flight, including at least three foreigners.
PIA’s emergency response center can be contacted at 0092-21-99044890, 0092-21-99044376 and 0092-21-99044394.
The ATR reportedly crashed at the Patola village near Pakistan Ordinance Factory, Havelian, and eyewitnesses reported seeing a plane crash hear Havelian, according to district police officer Abbottabad.
Eyewitnesses said the damage on the ground is “substantial”. There is a fire raging in the village where the aircraft crashed.
Global aviation watchdog Aviation Herald said that PK-661 crashed near Abbottabad due to engine problems.
PIA Spokesman Daniyal Gilani said, “A distress call was sent to the control tower… then the incident of the crash was reported.”
He added that the ATR-42 aircraft which was “nearly 10 years old” was “in good condition”.
The flight departed from Chitral around 3:30pm and was expected to land at Islamabad’s Benazir Bhutto International Airport at around 4:40pm.
Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif and Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan have directed the concerned federal departments to immediately initiate rescue efforts and help the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government, Press Information Department said.
The civil administration has also sent rescue teams to trace the wreckage and passengers, Radio Pakistan reported.
Army troops and army helicopters have been mobilised to a site near Havelian, Inter-Services Public Relations said.
“PIA’s ATR-42 aircraft operating as PK-661, carrying around 40 persons lost its contact with the control tower on its way from Chitral to Islamabad a short while ago,” the PIA spokesman tweeted. “All resources are being mobilised to locate the aircraft.”