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Charter flight crashes near Karachi, killing all on board


Latest update : 2010-11-05

A Pakistani charter flight carrying 21 people crashed in a Karachi suburb on Friday killing all on board, including several employees of the Italian oil firm ENI. The pilot of the JS Air flight reported engine trouble soon after take-off.

AFP - A charter aircraft carrying staff from an Italian oil company crashed minutes after take-off in Pakistan's business hub of Karachi on Friday, killing all 21 people on board.

The pilot of the twin engine turboprop operated by Pakistani charter JS Air reported engine trouble then nose dived near a military depot in a Karachi suburb, in an accident that civil aviation blamed on a technical fault.

"The plane has been totally gutted and there are no survivors," Lieutenant Colonel Noor Alam told reporters near the crash site in Gulistan-e-Jauhar.

Television footage showed the aircraft split in two, the front part totally destroyed and the rear section, marked JS Air, torn off alongside two wheels.

"The cause of crash was a technical fault. The pilot reported that one of the engines was not working. Everyone died. There were no survivors," said Pakistan's Civil Aviation Authority spokesman Pervaiz George.

The 21 people on board were believed to be mostly Pakistanis, although embassies said they were checking to see whether the dead included foreigners.

A company official in Karachi told AFP the plane was chartered by ENI, an Italian oil company, and was carrying its employees.

The Beech 1900 aircraft took off from Karachi's Jinnah airport shortly after 7:00 am (0200 GMT) on a 200-kilometre (125-mile) journey to an oil field at Bhit Shah in the southern province of Sindh.

The pilot contacted air traffic control almost immediately, reporting engine trouble and was given permission to return to the airport. Witnesses were quoted as saying the plane nose dived.

"It caught fire," Alam told reporters near the crash site.

"The bodies of the pilot and co-pilot have not been retrieved so far. We will have to cut the front portion to recover their bodies.

"The bodies were charred. One of my colleagues on the site literally fainted after seeing the bodies," he added.

George and police said there were 21 people on the aircraft -- 17 passengers, one guard, one technician, the pilot and co-pilot.

Pakistan's Civil Aviation Authority said the plane was carrying oil company employees to Bhit Shah in Sindh, of which Karachi is the capital.

The wreckage fell in an area near a military depot, police officials said.

"Soon after they left, they contacted the airport control tower and said there was a problem in one of the engines. The plane was directed to return and soon after it crashed," said George.

An official from JS Air confirmed to AFP that the doomed aircraft had been a Beech 1900, but declined to make further comment.

The company website says it operates three Beech 1900C aircraft dating from the early 1990s. It says it offers a "wide-ranging charter business domestically" and flies internationally, operating charters in Sri Lanka.

Karachi is Pakistan's business and economic capital. It is a teeming city of 16 million on the south coast with an Arabian Sea port where NATO supplies dock in preparation for travel overland to soldiers in Afghanistan.

Plane crashes are relatively rare in Pakistan, an enormous country of around 170 million people where inter-city travel is most efficient by air.

On July 28, a passenger Airbus 321 jet operated by private Airblue crashed into hills of the Pakistani capital Islamabad while coming into land after a flight from Karachi, killing 152 people on board.

Two Americans, an Austrian-born businessman, five children and two babies were among those killed in the worst aviation tragedy on Pakistani soil.

The only deadlier civilian plane crash involving a Pakistani jet occurred when a PIA Airbus A300 crashed into a cloud-covered hillside as it approached the Nepalese capital Kathmandu in 1992, killing 167 people.


Date created : 2010-11-05