A Muslim cleric who had a past career as a singer in a Pakistani rock group has been identified as one of the victims in a fatal plane crash in Pakistan on Wednesday, Reuters reported. Junaid Jamshed was on board Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) flight PK661 when it crashed in the northern part of the Middle East country, an airline official told Reuters.
According to senior police officer Khurram Rasheed, the plane crashed in a village near the town of Havelian, about 45 miles northwest of the capital, Islamabad. The small twin-propeller aircraft was travelling from the city of Chitral to Islamabad when it crashed shortly after takeoff.
The cause of the crash was not immediately clear. Pervez George, spokesman for Civil Aviation Authority, told the Associated Press that a total of 47 people, including crew members, were on board and, “I don’t think there is any chance of finding any survivor.”
Emergency response teams from the company were heading to the site, “which is in the mountains, and not an easy place to access,” Sher Ali added.
Pakistan International Airlines, the country’s national flag carrier, said flight PK-661 came down around 45 miles from its destination of Islamabad.
The ATR-42 twin-turboprop plane was en route from the northern city of Chitral when it crashed around 4:45 p.m. local time (6:45 a.m. ET) near the town of Havelian, the airline said in a statement.
Police said rescuers had retrieved at least seven bodies from the debris and efforts were underway to collect the remains of other passengers. There was no official confirmation about casualties, but Pakistan’s Interior Ministry dispatched a team to help identify the bodies through DNA tests.
Among them were three foreigners, including a Chinese national, airline spokesman Mushtaq Ghani told NBC News. Also on board was Pakistani pop icon turned Muslim preacher, Junaid Jamshed, the airline confirmed.
Military spokesman Col. Shafiq Ahmed told NBC News the army was “moving army troops and helicopter to the crash site.” The prime minister’s press secretary, Mohiuddin Wani, said in a text message that the “PM has ordered all authorities to reach the site start the rescue and relief efforts.”
The ATR-42 has suffered 20 crashes since its introduction in 1985, according the Aviation Safety Network online databases.
Last year, 54 people died when a Trigana Air Service ATR-42 crashed in Indonesia. The flight was also carrying around $470,000 destined for the country remote villages.