After a plane carrying 48 passengers crashed into a mountain in northern Pakistan on Wednesday eye witnesses said there were unlikely to be any survivors. At least 40 have been reportedly killed.
Military units said 40 bodies had been recovered and rescue efforts involved about 500 soldiers, doctors and paramedics. The bodies were shifted to the Ayub Medical Center in nearby Abbottabad, about 20km away.
Junaid Jamshed, a well-known Pakistani pop star turned evangelical Muslim cleric, was among those feared dead, an airline official said.
Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) said its plane lost contact with the control tower en route to the capital, Islamabad, from the northern region of Chitral.
The airline said the plane crashed at 1642 local time (1142 GMT) in the Havelian area of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province, about 40km (25 miles) north of Islamabad. Chitral, where the flight originated, is a very popular tourist destination in Pakistan.
“All of the bodies are burned beyond recognition. The debris are scattered,” Taj Muhammad Khan, a government official based in Havelian, told Reuters.
Khan, who was at the crash site, said witnesses told him “the aircraft has crashed in a mountainous area, and before it hit the ground it was on fire”.
Pakistani television showed a trail of wreckage engulfed in flames on a mountain slope.
Irfan Elahi, the government’s aviation secretary, told media the plane suffered engine problems but it was too early to determine the cause of the accident.