New Delhi/Islamabad: A passenger plane carrying 127 people crashed in stormy weather and burst into flames while approaching Pakistan`s Islamabad airport Friday evening. There were no reports of survivors. The crash happened at around 6.40 pm local time. Apart from 118 passengers, there were 9 crew members on board.
Pakistan’s Ministry of Defence confirmed the crash. As per official version the Bhoja Air plane, flight BHO-213, was flying from Karachi to Islamabad. It is reported to have crashed near Chaklala air base in Rawalpindi. It was a Boeing 737. The flight was on its maiden voyage.
The plane had left Karachi at around 17:00 local time (12:00 GMT) and had been due to arrive in Islamabad at 18:50 (13:50 GMT).
A per reports the ill-fated plane was making its final approach to the airport when it crashed. The crash happened just 10 kms from the runway. It will take some time for the investigators to determine the cause of the crash.
The Pakistan Civil Aviation Authorities (CAA) said that the crash was apparently due to bad weather.
Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani expressed deep sorrow over the tragedy and ordered investigation into the incident, Geo News reported.
According to rescuers, the wreckage area - around one sq km - was scattered with mangled bodies, severed body parts, burnt luggage, and parts of the fuselage strewn all over.
Local residents said they could see flame rising from the crash site.
An emergency was declared at hospitals in Islamabad and nearby Rawalpindi city and rescue teams and ambulances were rushed to the site.
Saifur Rehman, from a police rescue team, said the plane came down in Hussain Abad village, two miles from the main Islamabad highway.
According to sources in the CAA, the flight was given clearance to land at Islamabad`s Benazir Bhutto International Airport, but it lost contact with the control tower minutes before the crash.
The plane fell on top of houses in the village toppling building before hitting the ground, said eyewitnesses, but there were no reports of people on the village dying.
Bhoja Airlines had reportedly bought the 27.4 years old aircraft from Shaheen Airlines after it was scrapped by the latter for its compromised flight-worthiness.
President Zardari has ordered that a chartered plane be arranged to bring relatives of the crash victims to Islamabad.
In July 2011 another air tragedy had struck Pakistan when an Airbus A321 crashed just as it was about to land in Islamabad, killing all 152 passengers on board.
With IANS inputs