The A321 Airbus aircraft of Air Blue, Pakistan's largest private airline was approaching Islamabad airport from Karachi when it crashed in bad weather in the nearby Margalla Hills.
A rescue helicopter flies near the crash site in the Margalla hills in Islamabad
All 146 passengers and six crew members were killed in the crash, as stated by Pakistan's Interior Minister Rehman Malik. Bin Yamin, Islamabad's deputy police chief reported the recovery of 149 bodies. They have since been removed from the thickly forested mountains to a nearby hospital.
According to Pakistan's Geo television a spokesman of the US embassy in Islamabad as confirmed that two US citizens were on board.
Soldiers of Pakistan Armed Forces rush to the site of a plane crash
Trying to reconstruct what happened
Interior Minister Malik said that nothing could be said about the cause of the accident, which is the worst in the history of aviation in Pakistan. But retired Air Marshal Masood Akhtar attempted a possible reconstruction in an interview with Deutsche Welle:
"This aeroplane was fully airworthy when it took off from Karachi. It came. We had some bad weather. So, when we approach from the south of the runway 3.0 - that is the instrument landing runway where we have the ILS (instrument landing system). So the aeroplane intercepted the ILS glide path, came down, made visual contact with the runway. But the wind was from the south - the wind has to be from the north or head wind in order to land with the wind. So it broke off, and it was told to follow the bad weather circuit and approach for a landing from runway 1.2 which is from the north. So as it went further up, it got into some weather, that's what I believe. There was bad visibility, there were clouds, there was mist... So while in a turn - probably - he (the pilot) scraped the wing or hit the hill.''
Relatives gather at Jinnah International Airport
Good safety record
Air Blue has been operating since 2004 and has a fleet of 27 planes, mostly new Airbus A320 and A321 aircraft. It operates on domestic routes and runs international flights to Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Muscat, Sharjah and Manchester.
This is the first time that an Air Blue plane has crashed. The A321 aircraft was leased from International Lease Finance Corp, the leasing unit of US insurance giant AIG.
Author: Arun Chowdhury
Editor: Grahame Lucas