An Airbus A-321 operated by Pakistani carrier
Airblue Ltd. crashed into heavily forested hills near Islamabad in thick fog and heavy rain on Wednesday, killing all 152 people on board, civil aviation
The plane was at the end of a two-hour flight
from Karachi to Islamabad, Pakistan's capital. It crashed after being asked by the air traffic
control tower to bank around before landing
. There were 146 passengers and six crew aboard
, authorities said. Two American citizens and one Austrian were among the dead.
Raheel Ahmed said the plane 'was in excellent condition and there was no technical
fault when it took off from Karachi.' The aircraft was commissioned in 2000 and in use by Airblue, a privately
, since 2006, he said. He said the cause of the crash would be investigated.
Interior Minister Rehman Malik said the possibility
of sabotage couldn't be ruled out. 'We are investigating the crash from all aspects,' he said. He said the plane had strayed into a no-fly zone.
s into Islamabad had been canceled or diverted from the airport on Wednesday morning because of bad weather. The visibility had improved slightly
when the Airblue flight
was cleared to land.
Junaid Amin, the head of the Civil Aviation Authority, said the plane had been asked to circle
around because of traffic
congestion. He said the flight
with the control tower a few minutes before the crash.
Witnesses said the aircraft appeared to be flying very low before it crashed, creating a huge explosion
. 'It hit the hill with a bang,' said Anjum Rehman, who saw the crash from the balcony
of her house. A blaze of thick fire and a plume of black smoke from the wreckage could be seen from a distance.