Pakistan Army said Wedenesday it had recovered 36 dead bodies after a Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) plane carrying about 47 people crashed in a mountainous northern region.
PIA said its plane lost contact with the control tower en route to the capital, Islamabad, from the northern region of Chitral.
The plane crashed in the Havelian area of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, about 125km (77 miles) north of Islamabad.
“All of the bodies are burned beyond recognition. The debris is scattered,” Taj Muhammad Khan, a government official based in Havelian, told Reuters.
Khan, who was at the site of the crash, said witnesses told him “the aircraft has crashed in a mountainous area, and before it hit the ground it was on fire”.
Images shown on TV channels and circulated on social media showed a trail of wreckage engulfed in flames on a mountain slope.
The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) put the number of people on board at 47 but Sohail Ahmed, a PIA official in Chitral, said there were 41 people on board, including four crew members.
According to the flight manifest, there were several people on board with foreign names.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Minister for Interior Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan have directed federal departments concerned to immediately initiate rescue efforts and help the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government.
“Rescue teams are reaching the scene of the crash, and then we will know more,” Civil Aviation Authority spokesman Pervez George told Reuters.
The army said it had dispatched troops and helicopters to the location.
Pakistan’s last major air disaster was in 2015 when a military helicopter crashed in a remote northern valley, killing eight people including the Norwegian, Philippine and Indonesian envoys and the wives of Malaysian and Indonesian envoys.
The deadliest crash was in 2010, when an Airbus 321 operated by private airline Airblue and flying from Karachi crashed into hills outside Islamabad while about to land, killing all 152 on board.
The accident was blamed on a confused captain and a hostile cockpit atmosphere in an official report.
*This is a developing story