Investigators seek answers after deadly plane crash in Pakistan

Investigators search for answers after 46 people were killed in Pakistan’s deadliest plane crash in four year near the town of Havelian.

HAVELIAN, PAKISTAN (DECEMBER 8, 2016) (REUTERS) – Villagers and army personnel were still gathered on Thursday (December 8) morning at the site of Pakistan’s deadliest plane crash in four years, as officials sought to pinpoint the cause of the disaster.

Flight PK661 smashed into the side of a mountain near the town of Havelian, in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province, late on Wednesday afternoon, killing 46 people.

Among them was a famed-rockstar-turned-Muslim evangelist, two infants and three foreigners. The foreigners included two Austrians and a Chinese man, the airline said.

Local villagers flocked to the scene to help with rescue and recovery work after the crash, some praising the pilot for missing nearby villages.

“I pay tribute to the pilot who saved all our villages here. He crashed the plane into a hill,” said one villager, Irshad Khan.

The plane crashed just 50 km (31 miles) short of its destination, the international airport in Islamabad after taking off from the mountain resort of Chitral.

Engine trouble was initially believed responsible, but many questions remain, stirring new worries about the safety record of money-losing state carrier Pakistani International Airlines.

Concerns are growing over air safety as media in recent years have reported near-misses following overshot runways, engines catching fire and landing gear deployment failures.

In the worst such disaster, in 2010, all 152 people on board were killed when a passenger plane operated by airline Air Blue crashed in heavy rain near Islamabad.

Two years later, all 127 aboard were killed when a plane operated by Bhoja Air crashed near Islamabad.