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Plane Carrying 152 Crashes Near Islamabad

28.07.2010 09:14

A Pakistani airliner with 152 people on board has crashed in heavy rain near Pakistan's capital, Islamabad.

At least 50 people are confirmed dead, while early reports of a handful of survivors have proven wrong.

The Airbus A320 plane, belonging to the local airline AirBlue, came down in rugged, wooded country in the Margalla Hills just outside Islamabad. It was on a two-hour, scheduled flight from the southern city of Karachi.

The Pakistani government has declared a day of national mourning on July 29, with Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani and his cabinet expressing "grief and sorrow over the tragic incident" and offering prayers for the dead.

Anguished families were waiting at the airport terminal seeking definite news of their relatives.

The cause of the crash is unknown, but but terrorism is not suspected. Witnesses say the plane was preparing to land amid heavy cloud cover and monsoon-like rains.

One man, Saqlain Altaf, told the media that he saw the plane looking unsteady in the air seconds before the crash. The plane "lost balance," he said, and went down.

Reuters quoted police official Bin Yameen as saying dead bodies were lying all around the burning wreck and he estimated that few people could have survived the accident.

He said the victims were being flown out by helicopter. Ground rescue teams had difficulty reaching the site, in a steep ravine.

As the search continued, officials said they do not believe anyone could have survived the accident.

AirBlue is a Karachi-based private commercial company formed in 2004 that operates a small fleet of medium-haul aircraft. A spokesman, Raheel Ahmed, said this was the airline's first fatal crash.

In Paris, a spokesman for Airbus, Stefan Schaffrath, said it will provide information on the crash when confirmed data is available.

compiled from agency reports


Source: http://www.rferl.org/content/Up_To_Five_Bodies_Recovered_From_Plane_Crash_Near_Islamabad/2111691.html

Copyright (c) 2010. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

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