A Pakistan International Airlines flight carrying 48 on board, including five crew members, one ground engineer and 42 passengers, crashed near Abbottabad, Pakistani media reported on Wednesday. PIA flight PK-661 went off the radar while it was on its way to Islamabad from Chitral. Pakistan’s Civil Aviation Authority reportedly confirmed that the aircraft sent a distress signal shortly before it lost radio contact with air traffic control. The plane, an ATR-42, reportedly developed engine problems on its left wing and disappeared off radar. People living near the crash site heard a loud bang, consistent with that of a plane crash, according to Aviation Herald. The mountainous terrain has hindered rescue operations, according to news reports. The chances of finding survivors appears highly unlikely.
Dawn reported that the Army have been mobilised and helicopters were deployed to the crash site near Havelian, Abbottabad. Singer and television-evangelist Junaid Jamsheed was on board with his family. A PIA spokesperson said that “all forces are being mobilised to locate the aircraft”. The airliner released the following helpline numbers: 0092-91-99044890, 0092-91-99044376 and 0092-21-99044394. Local media reported that the flight took off from Chitral around 3.30 pm and was scheduled to arrive at the Benazir Bhutto International Airport in Islamabad around 4.40 pm.