Official: Plane crashes in Pakistan; 121 people on board

Posted at 11:02 AM, Apr 20, 2012
and last updated 2012-04-20 12:38:09-04

By the CNN Wire Staff

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (CNN) - A commercial airplane carrying at least 121 people crashed Friday in Rawalpindi just before it was to land at an airport in Islamabad, according to Pakistan's Civil Aviation Authority, which cited poor weather as a possible factor.

The Bhoja Air Boeing 737 was on its first flight from Karachi to Islamabad, authority spokesman Pervaz George told CNN, who said weather conditions in the capital were cloudy. Officials initially reported that 131 people were on board, but George later reduced that number.

There were no survivors.

The crash occurred near the Chaklala airbase, which the Pakistani air force uses, and is adjacent to the Benazir Bhutto International Airport in Islamabad.

Debris was scattered across the crash site as workers sifted through the wreckage in the heavily populated residential area.

The Bhoja airliner was flying from the southern seaport city of Karachi and crashed just before touching down, officials said.

The crash site was about five aeronautical miles from the airport in Islamabad, authorities said. The flight had lasted roughly 3½ hours.

Weather reports indicate conditions in the area included thunderstorms and limited visibility, according to CNN meteorologist Mari Ramos.

Authorities are investigating what may have caused the crash and the potential for additional casualties at the crash site.

Investigators are "going to be looking at technology," aviation security consultant Greg Feith said. "What kind of radio equipment, what kind of ground proximity warning system the aircraft was equipped with, weather radar, things like that ... since the weather may be a factor in this accident."

In 2010,152 people were killed when a Pakistani passenger plane crashed on the outskirts of Islamabad, Pakistan's capital.

That plane was also was coming from Karachi when it crashed into a hillside while trying to land, officials said at the time.

The first known commercial passenger airplane crash occurred in Pakistan in 1953 when a Canadian Pacific DH-106 Comet crashed shortly after takeoff from Karachi. That crash killed 11 people on board.