A commercial airliner flying in stormy weather crashed near the Pakistan capital of Islamabad Friday, killing all 127 passengers and crew members on board, news sources report.
The Bohja Air flight had departed from Karachi just after 5 p.m. It had been due to land at the Islamabad airport around 6:40 p.m. Rescuers discovered bodies and debris from the plane, an aged Boeing 737-200, were found scattered three to four miles from the airport, the Miami Herald reported.
Retired Navy pilot Arshad Mehmood witnessed the crash and rushed to the scene. "The pilot lost control and hit the ground," he told television reporters, according to the New York Times. "It tossed up due to the impact and exploded and came down in a fireball."
"We got there within five minutes. There were dead bodies and pieces of bodies everywhere. We could find no survivors," he was quoted in the Miami Herald.
Four nearby homes were damaged in the crash. No one on the ground was killed, but the 121 passengers, including 11 children, and six crew members all perished, Islamabad police chief Bani Yameen told the New York Times.
Air Bhoja took an 11-year hiatus because of financial difficulties in 2000. It was reopened last month, and this flight was the first on the Karachi-Islamabad route since the reopening, the New York Times reported.
This was the second major plane crash near the capital in as many years. In 2010, a flight crashed into hills near the city, killing all 152 people on board. This aircraft was flown by Airblue, another private airline, the New York Times reported.
The number of crashes at this airport have sparked frequent outcry of corruption and poor maintenance of the Pakistani airline industry.
"This is not about bad weather; I don't buy that," said Arif Abbasi, a former chief executive of Pakistan International Airlines, the state carrier. "The state of aviation in this country leaves much to be desired."
The Civil Aviation Authority announced it is launching an investigation of the crash, the New York Times reported.