A passenger jet crashed in the hills outside of Pakistan’s capital of Islamabad early this morning in the midst of rain, wind and low-hanging clouds. All 152 people onboard the plane have perished.
The plane, an Airbus 321 belonging to the private airliner Airblue, was traveling across Pakistan. The plane had originally departed the southern port city of Karachi for a two-hour flight to Islamabad.
Civil aviation official, Pervez George, told the Associated Press that “the plane was about to land at the Islamabad airport when it lost contact with the control tower, and later we learned that the plane had crashed.”
The time of that lost communication was 9:43 a.m. (Pakistan local time or 12:43 a.m. EDT), according to Reuters.
One witness told Reuters that it was raining as he saw the plane flying very low outside of his office.
Rain has been falling occasionally in Islamabad since Tuesday afternoon EDT. The city’s airport did not report any rainfall at midnight EDT, but rain had started again by 1 a.m.
Visibility in Islamabad was just over 2 miles at the time of the crash. However, visibility was significantly less higher in the atmosphere due to low-hanging clouds blanketing northern Pakistan.
Murree, Pakistan, which sits at an elevation of nearly 7,000 feet in the hills northeast of Islamabad, reported that visibility was down to one-sixteenth of a mile at 2 a.m. EDT.
The previous report from Murree at 8 p.m. EDT on Tuesday stated a similar visibility. The weather station at Murree only reports every six hours, unlike the hourly observations given at Islamabad’s airport.
In addition, Islamabad had been enduring persistent windy conditions since Tuesday. Around the time the plane lost contact, sustained winds were averaging from the east-northeast at 18 to 20 mph.
The plane came down in the Margalla Hills that lie to the north and west of Islamabad, and was carrying a total of 146 passengers and six crewmen.
A government official told the Associated Press that at all 152 people were killed in the crash. Earlier reports that five wounded passengers had survived were wrong.
The weather will not cooperate as crews work to recover bodies and clear the wreckage. Additional rain is in store for northern Pakistan through at least Friday.