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Bodies of 47 plane victims recovered

AAP logoAAP 7/12/2016

Rescue teams have recovered the bodies of all 47 people who were travelling aboard the ill-fated Pakistan International Airlines plane that crashed into a mountain in the country's north.

It was the deadliest plane crash in four years, with a famed rockstar-turned-Muslim evangelist, two infants and three foreigners among those killed.

Engine trouble was initially believed responsible, but many questions remain, stirring new worries about the safety record of money-losing state carrier Pakistani International Airlines.

The ATR-42 aircraft involved in the crash had undergone regular maintenance, including an "A-check" certification in October, said airline chairman Muhammad Azam Saigol.

"I want to make it clear that it was a perfectly sound aircraft," Saigol said.

The aircraft appeared to have suffered a failure in one of its two turboprop engines just before the crash, he added, but this would have to be confirmed by an investigation.

Television images appeared to show rescue officials retrieving the aircraft's "black box" flight recorder from the wreckage, and the airline confirmed the recovery to the Geo News channel.

It crashed just 50 km short of its destination, the international airport in Islamabad, the capital.

Latif ur Rehman, a spokesman for the Disaster Management Authority of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province where the crash took place, says the bodies of the 47 victims had been recovered but only five have been identified so far.

Remains are being brought by helicopter to Islamabad, where DNA tests will be used to identify them.

The plane was carrying 42 passengers - including two Austrians and a Chinese national - besides five crew members.

PIA Chairman Azam Sehgal said in a press conference the pilots informed the control tower one of the engines had stopped working, issued an SOS shortly later, only to finally lose contact with the tower.

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