Islamabad: In one of the deadliest aviation accidents in Pakistan's history, a plane carrying 47 people crashed on Wednesday in the country`s mountainous north and burst into flames killing everyone on board.
Pakistan on Thursday mourned the 47 victims, among them a famed-rockstar-turned-Muslim evangelist, two infants, and three foreigners.
Meanwhile, investigators are trying to pinpoint the cause of the disaster. Initially, engine trouble was believed to be responsible. However, many questions remain, stirring new worries about the safety record of money-losing state carrier Pakistani International Airlines.
The ATR-42 aircraft involved in the crash had undergone regular maintenance, including an "A-check" certification in October, airline chairman Muhammad Azam Saigol said.
"I want to make it clear that it was a perfectly sound aircraft," Saigol said, ruling out a technical or human error.
The aircraft appeared to have suffered a failure in one of its two turboprop engines just before the crash, he said, but this would have to be confirmed by an investigation.
"I think there was no technical error or human error," he told a news conference late on Wednesday. "Obviously there will be a proper investigation."
Outpourings of grief erupted online soon after flight PK661 smashed into the side of a mountain near the town of Havelian, in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province, late on Wednesday afternoon, after taking off from the mountain resort of Chitral.
It crashed just 50 km (31 miles) short of its destination, the international airport in Islamabad, the capital.
Much of the anguish focused on Junaid Jamshed, the vocalist of Vital Signs, one of Pakistan`s first and most successful rock and pop bands of the 1990s, who abandoned his musical career in 2001 to become a travelling evangelist with the conservative Tableeghi Jamaat group.
Many of the reactions on social network Twitter spoke to this apparent dichotomy between his two lives, first as a heartthrob pop sensation singing about love and heartbreak, and later as a stern, bearded preacher admonishing young people for straying from Islam.
"Junaid Jamshed`s journey was so quintessentially Pakistani. Conflicted, passionate, devoted, uber smart, and so, so talented. Tragic loss," Mosharraf Zaidi, an Islamabad-based development professional and analyst, said in a tweet.
Others simply shared his band`s many chart-topping hits, such as `Dil Dil Pakistan`, which has become an unofficial anthem, played at public gatherings since its release in 1987.
(With Agency inputs)