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Pakistani plane crashes after take-off with 48 people aboard

A plane belonging to Pakistan's national carrier has crashed and burst into flames 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, 45 miles north-west of the capital, Islamabad. The small twin-propeller aircraft was travelling from the city of Chitral to Islamabad when it crashed shortly after take-off.

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.

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 Junaid Jamshed, a famous singer-turned-Islamic-preacher.

Azam Sehgal, PIA's chairman, said the pilot of plane told the control tower 4.09pm that an engine had developed a technical fault and moments later he made a "mayday call", shortly before the plane disappeared.

Mr 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, said 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.

In a statement, the military said that 40 bodies had been retrieved.

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".

AP

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