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Bhoja Airline's crashes near Islamabad

Bhoja Airline's crashes near Islamabad

ISLAMABAD: Bhoja Airline's Islamabad-bound maiden flight # B4-213 carrying 125 people has crashed near the Chaklala airbase, Geo News reported.

The fateful Boeing 737 with 121 passengers and six crew members on board, which flew from Karachi at 5:00 PM was supposed to land in Islamabad at 6:50 PM, crashed just before touchdown.

According to sources in Civil Aviation Authority, the flight was given clearance to land but it lost contact with the control tower at 6:40 PM.

Rescuers say the plane's wreck was ablaze when they arrived at the site with mangled dead bodies, severed body parts, burnt luggage, and small parts of the fuselage strewn over all over the place in roughly one square kilometer area.

Saifur Rehman, an official from the police rescue team said the plane came down in Hussain Abad village, about three kilometers (two miles) from the main Islamabad highway.

"Fire erupted after the crash. The wreckage is on fire, the plane is completely destroyed. We have come with teams of firefighters and searchlights and more rescuers are coming," Rehman told Geo television.

An expert said that it appeared as if a lightning bolt struck the aircraft as the electrical activity in the thunderclouds above was in full swing, which may have caused the crash.

Residents said they had seen a ball of fire in the sky when the plane crashed. Parts of the plane smashed into electricity poles, blanketing the area in darkness, they added.

Local residents have also volunteered for the rescue work.

"Owing to nightfall as well as a heavy overcast, it's pitch black out there, making rescue work extremely difficult", rescuers said.

Reportedly Bhoja Airlines had bought this 27.4 years old aircraft from Shaheen Airlines after it was scrapped by the latter for its compromised flight-worthiness.

Ministry of Defence and Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) have confirmed the reports of crash.

Inclement weather has been held responsible for the crash.

Airplane's flight data recorder (Black Box) has been recovered as well.

All hospitals in the twin cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi have been put on high alert after the crash.

Benazir Bhutto Airport, which was earlier closed for operations has been now been opened.

In Karachi, hundreds of people are gathered outside the airport to inquire about relatives who had departed on the flight to Islamabad.

Women, men and children were seen crying after finding the names of loved ones on the list of passengers displayed by the airline.

President Zardari has ordered to arrange a chartered plane to bring the relatives of the plane crash to Islambad.

Torn fragments of the fuselage, including a large section bearing the airline's logo, could be seen in television footage.

Rescue crews combed through the charred wreckage of the plane as passengers' belongings -- clothes, shoes, jewellery -- ripped from their luggage, lay strewn on the ground.

Bhoja Air relaunched domestic operations with a fleet of five 737s in March, according to newspaper reports, when the airline was planning to start flights connecting Karachi, Sukkur, Multan, Lahore and Islamabad.

The Civil Aviation Authorities amid financial difficulties had grounded Bhoja in 2000, the reports said.

The worst aviation tragedy on Pakistani soil came in July 2010 when an Airbus 321 passenger jet operated by the private airline Airblue crashed into hills overlooking Islamabad while coming in to land after a flight from Karachi.

All 152 people on board were killed in the accident, which occurred amid heavy rain and poor visibility.

Another deadly civilian plane crash involving a Pakistani jet came to pass in 1992 when a PIA Airbus A300 crashed into a cloud-covered hillside on its approach to the Nepalese capital Kathmandu, killing 167 people.

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