A commercial jet carrying 127 people crashed into a village 9 km from the airport here on Friday, while trying to land in bad weather. All on board were feared dead with casualties suspected on the ground too.
“There is no chance of survivors. The plane is totally destroyed,” police officer Fazle Akbar told AFP.
The Boeing 737, operated by private carrier Bhoja Air, was on its inaugural flight from Karachi to the capital city. Carrying 118 passengers and nine crew, it went down around 6.40pm, minutes before landing, and crashed into Koral Chowk, a rural area that is largely farmland, according to defence minister Chaudhry Ahmed Mukhar.Airport officials blamed it on bad weather. Eyewitnesses said they saw the jet coming in to land during a hailstorm, descend suddenly and then crash into buildings. Some saw a ball of fire in the sky.
"The plane’s wreckage is on fire and we are trying to extinguish it," emergency official Saifur Rehman told Geo TV. TV footage showed parts of what looked like the engine and a wing up against the wall of a building. Rescue officials were working in the dark with flashlights.
At the Benazir Bhutto International Airport, a man waiting for the flight yelled “my two daughters are dead”.
In Delhi, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, in a message to counterpart Yusuf Raza Gilani, said, “I convey my deepest condolences to the families of the victims. Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Pakistan in this time of grief.”
This is the first major crash in Islamabad since July 2010, when a private airline crashed into the mountains, killing 152. Pilot error was found to be the cause then.