Forty-eight people aboard a Pakistan International Airlines flight, including pop singer-turned-Islamic preacher Junaid Jamshed, were killed when the turboprop aircraft crashed into rugged mountains of Abbottabad district on Wednesday.
Eight women and two infants were among those dead, apart from five crew members and a ground engineer.
The ATR-42 aircraft had taken off from Chitral at 3:30pm and was to land at Islamabad’s Benazir Bhutto International Airport around 280km away at 4:40pm. It crashed in Saddha Batolni village near the Pakistan Ordinance Factory, Havelian, in Abbottabad shortly after the pilot sent a distress signal to the ATC.
“A distress call was sent to the control tower… then the crash was reported,” Daniyal Gilani, PIA spokesperson, said, adding that the plane, nearly 10 years old, was in good condition.
Sultan, an eyewitness, told news channels that all bodies were burnt beyond recognition.
“We’ve not recovered any body intact. There are just burnt limbs and torsos scattered all around,” he said. The rough terrain without any road access, nightfall, and cold weather hampered rescue operations and ambulances were unable to reach the site.
A senior government official in Peshawar said three foreigners — one Australian, one Chinese and one Korean — were among the passengers.
Who was Junaid Jamshed ?
Junaid Jamshed, was a popular recording artist who later turned to Islamic proselytizing. Mr. Jamshed was a heartthrob in his youth, performing lead vocals in the band Vital Signs, known for its brooding, romantic, catchy ballads.
The band’s first pop music album, released in 1989, took the country by storm: The song “Dil Dil Pakistan” has become a sort of unofficial national anthem.
After the band broke up in the mid-1990s, Mr. Jamshed turned to Islamic preaching and became a televangelist. Although he had stopped singing, he began reciting na’at, a type of poetry that praises the Prophet Muhammad, and started a successful retail clothing business. One of Mr. Jamshed’s two wives was with him on the flight, according to Pakistani news reports.
Mr. Jamshed’s family members said he had gone to Chitral a week ago on a proseletyzing mission and had extended his stay by two days.
The crash is again focusing attention on Pakistan’s troubled air travel industry. For years, Pakistan International Airlines has been buffeted by controversies over mismanagement, corruption and safety.
The two most recent major air crashes, however, involved private or local airlines. In 2012, a flight by Bhoja Air, a private carrier, crashed outside Islamabad, killing 127 people.