Plane Carrying More Than 40 People Crashes in Pakistan


The site of a Pakistan International Airlines plane crash near Abbottabad, Pakistan, on Wednesday.

European Pressphoto Agency

PESHAWAR, Pakistan — A Pakistan International Airlines plane carrying more than 40 passengers, including one of the country’s most famous former pop singers, crashed near Abbottabad on Wednesday, government officials and the airline said.

The flight, PK 661, was traveling from Chitral, a northern tourist destination near the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, to Islamabad, the capital, when it crashed in the district of Abbottabad, said Saeed Wazir, the deputy inspector-general of police in Abbottabad.

“It is a hilly area,” Mr. Wazir said. “The police are on their way.”

“But what locals from the crash scene are telling us, the passengers are all burned,” he said. “Smoke and fire are billowing from the debris. No one can go near it. People are helpless.”

Abbottabad, a garrison city north of Peshawar, was where United States Navy SEALs raided a compound and killed Osama bin Laden in 2011.

The passengers included Junaid Jamshed, 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 also started a successful retail clothing business. The local news media reported Mr. Jamshed’s wife was also on the plane.

An initial report from the airline listed 42 passengers on the plane, including two infants. It also listed five crew members.

A senior government official in Peshawar said that three foreign nationals, including an Australian, a Chinese and a Korean, were among the passengers.

The cause of the crash was not immediately known. But the Civil Aviation Authority said that the plane lost radio contact with the air traffic control tower in Islamabad shortly before the crash.

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