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No survivors from Pakistan plane crash, official says

From Reza Sayah, Shaan Khan and Nasir Habib, CNN
April 21, 2012 -- Updated 0136 GMT (0936 HKT)
Pakistani rescue workers and local residents search the site of a plane crash in Rawalpindi on Friday, April 20. There is "no chance" of any survivors after a plane carrying up to 130 people crashed while trying to land in bad weather near Islamabad, police said. Pakistani rescue workers and local residents search the site of a plane crash in Rawalpindi on Friday, April 20. There is "no chance" of any survivors after a plane carrying up to 130 people crashed while trying to land in bad weather near Islamabad, police said.
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Pakistan plane crash claims all passengers
Pakistan plane crash claims all passengers
Pakistan plane crash claims all passengers
Pakistan plane crash claims all passengers
Pakistan plane crash claims all passengers
Pakistan plane crash claims all passengers
Pakistan plane crash claims all passengers
Pakistan plane crash claims all passengers
Pakistan plane crash claims all passengers
Pakistan plane crash claims all passengers
Pakistan plane crash claims all passengers
Pakistan plane crash claims all passengers
Pakistan plane crash claims all passengers
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Airliner was originally sold in 1985, a Boeing spokeswoman says
  • Number of people on flight raised to 127, officials said
  • The flight data recorder is recovered at the crash site in Islamabad
  • Crisis operation rooms have been set up at airports in Islamabad and Karachi

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Islamabad, Pakistan (CNN) -- A commercial airplane carrying 127 people crashed Friday in Islamabad just before it was to land at a nearby airport, according to Pakistan's Civil Aviation Authority, which cited poor weather as a possible factor.

No survivors have been found, officials said.

The Bhoja Air Boeing 737-200 had been making its first evening flight from Karachi to Islamabad, where the weather was cloudy, officials said.

Authorities twice changed the number people reported to be on board, but by Friday afternoon appeared to agree on the figure.

The crash occurred near the Chaklala airbase, a military site used by the country's air force, which is adjacent to the Benazir Bhutto International Airport in Islamabad.

Debris and body parts were scattered across the crash site as workers sifted through the wreckage in the heavily populated residential area. Four villages were affected by the crash and debris from the plane has been recovered within a kilometer of the site, Interior Minister A Rehman Malik said in a interview with Pakistani media.

At least 110 bodies have been recovered from the scene, while more than a 150 bags filled with body parts have been transported to hospitals across the region, according to Farkhand Iqbal, a municipal official in Islamabad.

World's deadliest plane crashes

The flight data recorder, which is considered a key component in determining what may have caused the tragedy, was recovered, officials said.

First images of Pakistan plane crash
Darkness, rain hampers recovery efforts

The Bhoja airliner had been flying from the southern seaport city of Karachi and crashed just before touching down in the capital after its 3½-hour flight.

Local authorities say the crash site is located about five aeronautical miles from the airport in Islamabad.

Weather reports indicated that conditions in the area included thunderstorms and limited visibility, according to CNN meteorologist Mari Ramos.

Authorities are examining what may have caused the crash and the potential for additional casualties at the site of the wreckage.

Investigators are "going to be looking at technology," aviation security consultant Greg Feith said. "What kind of radio equipment, what kind of ground proximity warning system the aircraft was equipped with, weather radar, things like that ... since the weather may be a factor in this accident."

Pakistani Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani on Friday expressed "deep shock and grief over the tragedy," ordering his country's Civil Aviation Authority "to gear up all its resources for rescue operation," state media reported.

A separate inquiry into the incident has been launched by Pakistan's Safety Investigation Board, and two crisis operation rooms have been set up at airports in both Islamabad and Karachi to provide information to the affected families.

A Boeing spokeswoman, meanwhile, said the American manufacturer "stands ready to provide technical assistance to the Civil Aviation Authority of Pakistan."

The airliner was originally sold in 1985, said Julie O'Donnell.

"The Boeing Company wishes to extend its profound condolences to the families and friends of those lost today in the Bhoja Air accident in Pakistan, as well as wishes for the recovery of those injured," said O'Donnell.

Responding to allegations that the aircraft was not in good condition to fly, Defense Secretary Nargis Sethi told a local television station that the government has initiated "an immediate investigation."

"Whether it was 10, 8 years old, or not airworthy is something that we can't confirm yet," Sethi said.

But Bhoja Air station manager Zahid Bangish told a Pakistani television station later Friday that the "aircraft was new, not the old one and unairworthy."

The crash is reminiscent of one in 2010,when 152 people were killed as a Pakistani passenger plane crashed on the outskirts of Islamabad, Pakistan's capital. That plane was also was coming from Karachi when it crashed into a hillside while trying to land, officials said at the time.

Four years earlier, another airliner crashed in central Pakistan, leaving 45 dead.

The first known commercial passenger airplane crash occurred in Pakistan in 1953 when a Canadian Pacific DH-106 Comet crashed shortly after takeoff from Karachi. That crash killed 11 people on board.

CNN's Wajahat S. Khan, Aaron Cooper, Kathryn Tancos, Pierre Meilhan contributed to this report.

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