No survivors likely in Pakistan plane crash carrying 47 passengers

ISLAMABAD, Dec 7 (Reuters) - There are unlikely to be any survivors from a Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) plane carrying about 40 people that crashed on Wednesday in a mountainous northern region, a government official at the crash site said.

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 125 km (77 miles) north of Islamabad.

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"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 Pakistani TV channels and circulated on social media showed a trail of wreckage engulfed in flames on a mountain slope.

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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.

"Rescue teams are reaching the scene of the crash, and then we will know more," Civil Aviation Authority spokesman Pervez George told Reuters.

Geo News and Dawn News TV stations, citing civil aviation sources, said the plane lost contact with the CAA at around 4.30 p.m. (1130 GMT).

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Pakistani workers look at the wreckage of a burnt out ship a day after a gas cylinder explosion at the Gadani shipbreaking yard, some 30 miles west of Karachi, on November 2, 2016. The death toll from an explosion and fire at a Pakistan ship-breaking yard has risen to 17, officials said Wednesday, as a search continued for more victims.

(RIZWAN TABASSUM/AFP/Getty Images)

Smoke rises from the burning oil tanker as media vehicles are stationed at the ship-breaking yard in Gaddani, Pakistan, November 2, 2016.

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Rescue workers walk near the burning oil tanker at the ship-breaking yard in Gaddani, Pakistan, November 2, 2016.

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Rescue workers and family members of missing laborers gather and wait near the burning oil tanker at the Gaddani ship-breaking yard, in Pakistan, November 2, 2016.

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Rescue workers gather near the burning oil tanker at the ship-breaking yard in Gaddani, Pakistan, November 2, 2016.

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Rescue workers move a man who was injured after an explosion at the Gadani ship-breaking yard, at a hospital in Karachi, Pakistan, November 1, 2016.

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A man takes photo of his colleague with a mobile phone on the burning oil tanker at the ship-breaking yard in Gaddani, Pakistan, November 2, 2016.

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People stand near a burning ship at the explosion site in southwest Pakistan's Hub, Nov. 1, 2016. At least 10 laborers were killed and over 50 others injured in an explosion during work on a dismantled ship at a ship-breaking yard in Pakistan's southwest Hub district on Tuesday, officials said.

(Xinhua/Stinger via Getty Images)

Pakistani men gather as they wait for missing relatives in front of a burnt ship a day after a gas cylinder explosion at the Gadani ship-breaking yard, some 30 miles west of Karachi, on November 2, 2016. The death toll from an explosion and fire at a Pakistan ship-breaking yard has risen to 17, officials said Wednesday, as a search continued for more victims.

(RIZWAN TABASSUM/AFP/Getty Images)

People stand near a burning ship at the explosion site in southwest Pakistan's Hub, Nov. 1, 2016. At least 10 laborers were killed and over 50 others injured in an explosion during work on a dismantled ship at a ship-breaking yard in Pakistan's southwest Hub district on Tuesday, officials said.

(Xinhua/Stinger via Getty Images)

A Pakistani man takes pictures in front of a burning ship after a gas cylinder explosion at the Gadani shipbreaking yard, some 30 miles west of Karachi on November 1, 2016. At least 11 people were killed and 59 wounded, when a gas cylinder exploded and started a fire inside an oil tanker being broken up for scrap in southern Pakistan, officials said.

(RIZWAN TABASSUM/AFP/Getty Images)

Pakistani firefighters use a hose as they attempt to extinguish a fire on a ship after a gas cylinder explosion at the Gadani shipbreaking yard, some 30 miles west of Karachi on November 1, 2016. At least 11 people were killed and 59 wounded, when a gas cylinder exploded and started a fire inside an oil tanker being broken up for scrap in southern Pakistan, officials said.

(RIZWAN TABASSUM/AFP/Getty Images)

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Junaid Jamshed, a well-known Pakistani pop star turned evangelical Muslim cleric, was on board the crashed aircraft, according to Ahmed, the PIA official in Chitral.

Jamshed, a singer in one of Pakistan's first major rock bands in the 1990s, abandoned his singing career to join the Tableeghi Jamaat group, which travels across Pakistan and abroad preaching about Islam.

According to the flight manifest, there were several people on board with foreign names.

Plane crashes are not uncommon in Pakistan and safety standards are often criticized.

In recent years, media has reported on multiple near-misses as planes over-run runways and engines caught fire.

In 2010, a passenger plane crashed in heavy rain near Islamabad, killing all 152 people on board. Two years later, an plane operated by a private Pakistani company, with 127 people on board, crashed near Islamabad. All on board killed.

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Investigators and rescue services at the scene of a plane crash at the airport in Valletta, Malta, 24 October 2016. REUTERS/Darrin Zammit Lupi MALTA OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN MALTA.
Investigators and rescue services at the scene of a plane crash at the airport in Valletta, Malta, 24 October 2016. REUTERS/Darrin Zammit Lupi MALTA OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN MALTA.
Investigators and rescue services at the scene of a plane crash at the airport in Valletta, Malta, 24 October 2016. REUTERS/Darrin Zammit Lupi MALTA OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN MALTA.
Investigators and rescue services at the scene of a plane crash at the airport in Valletta, Malta, 24 October 2016. REUTERS/Darrin Zammit Lupi MALTA OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN MALTA.
Investigators and rescue services at the scene of a plane crash at the airport in Valletta, Malta, 24 October 2016. REUTERS/Darrin Zammit Lupi MALTA OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN MALTA.
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Forensics work on the site of a small plane crash at Malta International Airport, on October 24, 2016. Five French nationals died when a small plane crashed shortly after take off from Malta's international airport, the island's government said. The plane had been chartered by French customs and had been involved in the surveillance of people and drugs trafficking off Malta, the government said in a statement. / AFP / Matthew Mirabelli (Photo credit should read MATTHEW MIRABELLI/AFP/Getty Images)
Forensics work on the site of a small plane crash at Malta International Airport, on October 24, 2016. Five French nationals died when a small plane crashed shortly after take off from Malta's international airport, the island's government said. The plane had been chartered by French customs and had been involved in the surveillance of people and drugs trafficking off Malta, the government said in a statement. / AFP / Matthew Mirabelli (Photo credit should read MATTHEW MIRABELLI/AFP/Getty Images)
The body of a victim of a small plane crash at Malta International Airport, is removed from the scene on October 24, 2016. Five French nationals died when a small plane crashed shortly after take off from Malta's international airport, the island's government said. The plane had been chartered by French customs and had been involved in the surveillance of people and drugs trafficking off Malta, the government said in a statement. / AFP / Matthew Mirabelli (Photo credit should read MATTHEW MIRABELLI/AFP/Getty Images)
Members of Malta's Armed Forces check the runway after a small passenger aircraft crashed on takeoff at Malta's international airport on October 24, 2016, killing all five people onboard, officials said. / AFP / Matthew Mirabelli / Malta OUT (Photo credit should read MATTHEW MIRABELLI/AFP/Getty Images)
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Emergency workers are seen at the site of the wreckage of a small twin engined plane which crashed shortly after takeover from Malta International Airport, on October 24, 2016. / AFP / Matthew Mirabelli / Malta OUT (Photo credit should read MATTHEW MIRABELLI/AFP/Getty Images)
Emergency workers are seen at the site of the wreckage of a small twin engined plane which crashed shortly after takeover from Malta International Airport, on October 24, 2016. / AFP / Matthew Mirabelli / Malta OUT (Photo credit should read MATTHEW MIRABELLI/AFP/Getty Images)
Emergency workers are seen at the site of the wreckage of a small twin engined plane which crashed shortly after takeover from Malta International Airport, on October 24, 2016. / AFP / Matthew Mirabelli / Malta OUT (Photo credit should read MATTHEW MIRABELLI/AFP/Getty Images)
Emergency workers are seen at the site of the wreckage of a small twin engined plane which crashed shortly after takeover from Malta International Airport, on October 24, 2016. / AFP / Matthew Mirabelli / Malta OUT (Photo credit should read MATTHEW MIRABELLI/AFP/Getty Images)
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