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48 killed in Pakistan International Airlines plane crash

A Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) airplane with 48 people on board has crashed on its approach to Islamabad from a popular tourist region of Chitral.

The airline said a small turboprop ATR-42 aircraft had lost contact with aircraft controllers shortly before police confirmed that an aircraft had crashed near the town of Havelian.

PIA said the plane crashed at 1642 local time (1142 GMT) in the Havelian area of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, about 125 km (77 miles) north of Islamabad.

Havelian lies 30 miles north of the capital’s airport and far away from the high peaks of the Hindu Kush mountain range in which Chitral is nestled.

The army said it had dispatched troops and helicopters to the scene, but an official said there were unlikely to be any survivors.

“All of the bodies are burned beyond recognition. The debris is scattered,” said Taj Muhammad Khan.

Images shown on Pakistani TV channels and circulated on social media showed a trail of wreckage engulfed in flames on a mountain slope.

The military said 21 bodies had been recovered.

Kurshid Tanoli, a police official in Havelian, said recovery work was hampered by a fire at the crash site and the hilly terrain.

“The nearest village to the site is Batolani and is deep in the hills,” he said. “Vehicles and ambulances can only go to Batolani and then it is a 30-minute walk.”

A manifest for flight PK661, obtained by local media, showed that in addition to five crew and a ground engineer there were 42 passengers on board, including Junaid Jamshed, a pop star turned evangelical Muslim cleric and fashion designer, who ran a successful chain of boutiques across the country.

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