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Finding survivors unlikely - minister

20 April 2012, 17:00

Islamabad - A Pakistani passenger jet with 127 people on board crashed on Friday as it was landing in bad weather at an airport near the capital, Islamabad, officials said.

A government minister expressed little hope of finding survivors.

The Bhoja Air Boeing 737-200 went down in farmland just a few kilometres away from the Benazir Bhutto International Airport, Defence Minister Chaudhry Ahmed Mukhar said.

Mukhar said civil aviation officials had reported it was unlikely anybody had survived.

It was unclear if any casualties occurred on the ground, but the crash happened in what appeared to be a relatively unpopulated rural area.

A violent rain and wind storm was lashing parts of the capital about the same time as the crash, which occurred at about 18:40.

The aircraft had been travelling from the country's largest city of Karachi to the Pakistani capital, officials said.

"We can see the plane's wreckage is on fire and we are trying to extinguish it," emergency official Saifur Rehman told Geo TV from the scene. "We are looking for survivors."

TV footage showed wreckage of the plane, including parts of what looked like its engine and wing, up against the wall of a small building. Rescue officials were working in the dark, with many using torches as they combed the area.

The last major plane crash in the country - and Pakistan's worst ever - occurred in July 2010 when an Airbus A321 aircraft operated by Airblue crashed in the hills overlooking Islamabad, killing all 152 people on board.

A government investigation blamed the pilot for veering off course amid stormy weather.

The impact of the crash was devastating, scorching a wide swath of the hillside and scattering wreckage over a kilometre stretch. Most bodies were so badly damaged that identification required DNA testing.

- AP


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