A plane belonging to Pakistan’s national carrier has crashed with 48 people on board. Survivors are “unlikely”, a government official has said.
The plane crashed in a village near the town of Havelian, about 45 miles north-west of the capital Islamabad, according to senior police officer Khurram Rasheed.
The small twin-propeller aircraft was travelling from the city of Chitral to Islamabad when it crashed shortly after take-off.
According to Daniyal Gilani, the spokesman for Pakistan International Airlines, the plane had lost touch with the control tower prior to the crash.
He said the plane was carrying 42 passengers, five crew members and a ground engineer. The cause of the crash was not immediately clear.
Civil aviation authority spokesman Pervez George said a team of experts would determine the cause after retrieving the plane’s black box recorder.
“I don’t think there is any chance of finding any survivors,” he said.
TV footage showed debris from the plane and a massive fire at the site of the crash.
The footage showed local villagers collecting the remains of the passengers and covering the bodies with cloths.
In a statement, the military said that 36 bodies had been retrieved so far.
A spokesman for the interior ministry said a team had been dispatched to help identify the bodies through DNA tests.
Authorities have released names of passengers – among them Junaid Jamshed, a famous singer-turned-Islamic preacher.
Jamshed, who had 2.8 million Facebook fans, has been named among the world’s 500 most influential Muslims. In his last Twitter post he described Chitral as “heaven on earth”.
Pakistani prime minister Nawaz Sharif expressed his “deep grief and sorrow” over the crash.
In a statement, he said “the entire nation is deeply saddened over today’s unfortunate crash and shares the grief of the families who lost their dear ones”.
Plane crashes are not uncommon in Pakistan.
About 150 people were killed in a crash in the hills of Islamabad in 2010.
In 2015, a military helicopter carrying several diplomats also crashed in the north of the country, killing eight people.
A private plane also crashed near Islamabad due to bad weather in 2012, killing 127.