Ju­naid Jamshed among 48 dead in Pak air crash

Kuwait Times - - FRONT PAGE -

A plane be­long­ing to Pak­istan’s na­tional car­rier crashed and burst into flames yes­ter­day with 48 peo­ple on board, killing all of them, po­lice and an air­line spokesman said. Ac­cord­ing to se­nior po­lice of­fi­cer Khur­ram Rasheed, the plane crashed in a vil­lage in the district of Ab­bot­tabad, 75 km 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.

Among those on board was Ju­naid Jamshed, a for­mer Pak­istani pop star turned evan­gel­i­cal Mus­lim, ac­cord­ing to the Chi­tral air­port man­ager and a lo­cal po­lice of­fi­cial. The singer’s Twit­ter ac­count had said he was in Chi­tral. Jamshed rock­eted to fame in Pak­istan in the 1980s and 1990s as the singer for the Vi­tal Signs rock group, and later launched a solo ca­reer, with a string of chart-top­ping al­bums and hits. Jamshed aban­doned his singing ca­reer in 2001 to join the Tableeghi Ja­maat group, which trav­els across Pak­istan and abroad preach­ing about Is­lam.

In his last tweet, Jamshed posted pic­tures of a snow-capped moun­tain, call­ing Chi­tral “Heaven on Earth”. Trib­utes were pour­ing in on so­cial me­dia for the for­mer lead singer of the coun­try’s first ma­jor pop band, whose pop­u­lar “Dil Dil Pak­istan” be­came an un­of­fi­cial na­tional an­them. “The voice of my youth, the voice of my gen­er­a­tion .... #Ju­naidJamshed you will be sorely missed,” tweeted user Huma A Shah.

Ac­cord­ing to Daniyal Gi­lani, the spokesman for Pak­istan In­ter­na­tional Air­lines, the plane had lost touch with the con­trol tower prior to the crash. He said the plane was car­ry­ing 42 pas­sen­gers, five crew mem­bers and a ground en­gi­neer.

“There is no sur­vivor,” a se­nior gov­ern­ment of­fi­cial at the In­te­rior Min­istry said. “All those on board the plane were killed,” said the of­fi­cial, who spoke on con­di­tion of anonymity as he was not au­tho­rized to re­lease de­tails about the crash to the me­dia.

Azam Se­h­gal, PIA’s chair­man, said the pi­lot of plane told the con­trol tower 4:09 pm that an en­gine had de­vel­oped a tech­ni­cal fault and mo­ments later he made a “may­day call” shortly be­fore the plane dis­ap­peared. Se­h­gal said the plane was fit to fly but that it was un­clear what caused the crash. Pervez Ge­orge, the spokesman for the Civil Avi­a­tion Au­thor­ity, told AP that a team of ex­perts would de­ter­mine the cause af­ter re­triev­ing the plane’s black box recorder.

TV footage showed de­bris from the plane and a mas­sive fire at the site of the crash. The footage showed lo­cal vil­lagers col­lect­ing the re­mains of the pas­sen­gers and cover­ing the bod­ies with cloths. In a state­ment, the mil­i­tary said that 40 bod­ies had been re­trieved. Sev­eral bod­ies were later trans­ported to the Ayub Med­i­cal Com­plex, where mourn­ing rel­a­tives be­gan ar­riv­ing to re­ceive the re­mains.

Among such mourn­ers was tear­ful Ghu­lam Ra­sool Khan, 24, who said his brother Umair Khan was on board the plane. Ghu­lam asked po­lice to al­low him to iden­tify his brother’s body. How­ever, po­lice of­fi­cer Iqbal Khan told him there was no point in go­ing to the mor­tu­ary as, “there is noth­ing left which you can rec­og­nize.” Khan said he had heard that the plane was not fit to fly. “It is a mur­der and I want to know who killed my brother,” he said.

Altaf Hus­sain, a res­cue worker who trans­ported the re­mains of pas­sen­gers in an am­bu­lance, told the AP that the crash site smelled of burnt flesh and oil and that body parts were scat­tered every­where. “We col­lected the burned bones of the ill-fated pas­sen­gers and wrapped them in cloth,” he said. Am­bu­lance driver Du­ray Hus­sain said the re­mains of the pas­sen­gers were “be­yond recog­ni­tion”.

One of­fi­cial, Far­man Ghori, was cry­ing out­side the hos­pi­tal, say­ing he saw the faces of two tod­dlers among the re­mains. “Oh God, I never saw such a tragedy,” Ghori said. A spokesman for the In­te­rior Min­istry said at team had been dis­patched to help iden­tify the bod­ies through DNA tests. Au­thor­i­ties have re­leased names of pas­sen­gers - among them Jamshed and his wife.

Pak­istani Prime Min­is­ter Nawaz Sharif ex­pressed his “deep grief and sor­row” over the crash. In a state­ment, he said “the en­tire na­tion is deeply sad­dened over to­day’s un­for­tu­nate crash and shares the grief of the fam­i­lies who lost their dear ones”. Plane crashes are not un­com­mon in Pak­istan. About 150 peo­ple were killed in a crash in the hills of Is­lam­abad in 2010. In 2015, a mil­i­tary he­li­copter car­ry­ing sev­eral diplo­mats also crashed in the coun­try’s north, killing eight peo­ple. A pri­vate plane also crashed near Is­lam­abad due to bad weather in 2012, killing all 127 peo­ple on board.

MANAMA: HH the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ah­mad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah (left) shares a light mo­ment with Saudi King Sal­man bin Ab­du­laziz Al Saud at the GCC sum­mit in the Bahraini cap­i­tal on Tues­day. — KUNA

Ju­naid Jamshed

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