A Pakistani airliner with 127 people on board crashed in bad weather as it came in to land in Islamabad on Friday, scattering wreckage and leaving no sign of survivors.
The Boeing 737, operated by local airline Bhoja Air, was flying to the capital from Pakistan’s biggest city and business hub Karachi. It crashed more than 5 miles (about 9 km) from the airport.
Aviation official Pervez George gave no details of casualties. Rescue workers, who combed muddy fields at the crash site, said there was no chance of finding survivors.
Body parts and personal effects lay among wreckage strewn in a small settlement just outside Islamabad.
Residents said they had seen a ball of fire in the sky when the plane crashed. Parts of the aircraft crashed into electricity poles, blanketing the area in darkness.
Bhoja Air said the plane crashed during its approach into Islamabad due to bad weather. There was no indication from the government that it could have been the result of foul play.
A man who had been waiting at Islamabad’s Benazir Bhutto Airport for the flight yelled “my two daughters are dead”.
In a state of shock, he then slumped on the floor and sat silently as other relatives of passengers crowded around lists of those on board.
The uncle of the sisters, 18 and 20, said they were supposed to return to Islamabad on Sunday but flew early to see an aunt who is visiting from London.
“We don’t even know when or where we will get to see their bodies,” said the uncle, Qamar Abbas
Nearby, relatives of passengers hugged each other and sobbed. One man cried “my kids, my kids”.
Among them was Zarina Bibi, desperate to determine whether her husband was on the flight. “He called me before leaving Karachi but I don’t know if he was on this flight or not,” said Bibi, whose eyes were red from crying.
The last major aviation accident in Pakistan was in July 2010, when a commercial airliner operated by AirBlue with 152 people on board crashed into the hills overlooking Islamabad.
In 2006, a Pakistan International Airlines aircraft crashed near the central city of Multan, killing 45 people.
State television reported that all hospitals in Islamabad and the nearby city of Rawalpindi had been put on high alert after Friday’s crash.
At Islamabad’s main hospital, rescue workers brought in remains of the passengers placed under white sheets that were soaked in blood.
“Two years later the same story is being repeated in my house again,” said Nasreen Mubasher, who was at the hospital waiting for the remains of her brother-in-law, who was a passenger. Another brother-in-law died in the AirBlue crash.
Boeing said in a statement on its website that it “wishes to extend its profound condolences to the families and friends” of the Bhoja Air passengers.
At Karachi airport, Asim Hashmi complained the airline’s counter was shut and he had no way of obtaining information on his aunt and cousin, who were on flight B4-213.
“We don’t know anything,” he said. “Just pray for the souls of the departed. That is all we can do now.”