July 29, 2010 in Nation/World

Two Americans among plane’s dead

Recovery effort under way; cause of impact unclear
Saeed Shah McClatchy
 
Associated Press photo

Pakistani rescue workers wait for helicopters to collect bodies at the site of a plane crash in Islamabad, Pakistan, on Wednesday.
(Full-size photo)

ISLAMABAD – Two Americans were among the 152 passengers and crew members who died Wednesday when an Airbus A321 operated by a private Pakistani carrier crashed amid heavy rain into the hills that surround the capital of Islamabad. It was the worst air crash in Pakistani aviation history.

The Airblue plane was on a flight from Karachi, Pakistan, when it crashed at around 10 a.m. local time. It carried 146 passengers and a crew of six.

The aircraft had made one pass at landing before airport controllers ordered it to abort. It remained unclear why the plane then flew so low and seemingly straight toward the cloud-covered hills. The plane disintegrated on impact, scattering the wreckage. Thick smoke rose from the crash site.

The plane crashed in dense forest near the top of a hill, about an hour away from the nearest road, making access to the wreckage difficult.

“It is a great tragedy, and I confirm it with pain that there are no survivors,” said Imtiaz Elahi, the chairman of Islamabad’s Capital Development Authority, which deals with emergencies in the city.

The U.S. Embassy in Islamabad confirmed the deaths of two Americans. Richard Snelsire, a spokesman for the embassy, said that no further details would be released until the next of kin were informed.

In the U.S., Paulette Kirksey said that her godmother, Rosie Ahmed of Gadsden, Ala., and her husband, Saleem Ahmed, were among those on the plane. Rosie Ahmed was in Pakistan to make arrangements for her husband to move to the United States, Kirksey said. She said Rosie Ahmed was in her late 50s.

Late Wednesday, Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira announced that about 115 bodies had been removed from the site, though he couldn’t be exact as only 12 were intact. He asked close relatives of the deceased to provide blood samples, as the only way of identifying most of the dead would be DNA testing.

Kaira said that the “black box” flight data recorder hadn’t been recovered so far.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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