45 feared dead in Pakistan air crash

Monday, July 10, 2006

A Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) passenger plane crashed shortly after take-off in the eastern Pakistani city of Multan. The police chief present at the location told Reuters that all 41 passengers and 4 crew members on board died in the crash.

A PIA Fokker-F27 at Allama Iqbal International Airport, Lahore

"Everyone is dead. I am standing at the site," Iftikhar Babar, the police chief, told Reuters.

Airport officials said PIA Flight PK 688 left Multan heading for Lahore and Islamabad. It crashed 10 minutes after take-off,

"Bodies are badly charred. The debris has caught fire," an eyewitness told Reuters. He said rescue workers from the privately run relief foundation Edhi, the Civil Aviation Authority, and the army were taking part in the rescue operation.

Pakistan's private Geo Television station also stated the aircraft to be in flames. They describe it as having gone down in a wheat field near a mango orchard, two miles from the airport. Several trees were burning from the impact of the crash and a perimeter wall was damaged. It also appeared to have hit an electric power line while crashing in the field. Police have cordoned off the area and are keeping people away from the scene.

It is still unclear if anyone on the ground has been killed or injured.

A PIA spokesman said: "The plane lost contact with the control tower about two minutes after take-off. We don't know what happened to it."

Mohammed Iqbal, an airline security official, confirmed that there were 41 passengers and four crew members on board the Fokker aircraft.