A Boeing 737-200 operated by Pakistan’s Bhoja Air crashed late Friday while carrying 117 passengers and 9 crew members. The aircraft had departed Karachi at 5:05pm and was due to land at Islamabad at 6:50pm (9:50 am New York City local time). The approach took place under very severe weather conditions and the aircraft was reportedly seen turning into a massive fireball shortly before or after hitting the ground near a Husain Abad village residential habitations area. This area is located in the vicinity of the Rawalpindi Air Force complex. The evening crash took place at about 6:40 pm amid lightning, rain and possibly hail conditions as air traffic controllers reported suddenly losing contact with the crew of the doomed aircraft. A large scale recovery effort coordinated by the ministry of defense has been underway, highlighting the severity of the crisis, one of Pakistan’s worse.
Bhota Airlines is a small Pakistani air operator started in 1993. The Karachi-based carrier who had stopped operations following financial difficulties in 2001 recently re-emerged into passenger operations and was apparently conducting its first Karachi-Islamabad flight under the flight B4-213 that crashed on Friday. Pakistan’s main national carrier PIA was preparing a flight on behalf of the country’s Civil Aviation Authority to bring the victims’ relatives to Islamabad at no cost. The Boeing 737-200 aircraft series were all delivered by Boeing between December 29th 1967 and August 8th 1988 all powered by the ubiquitously small diameter Pratt and Whitney JT8D turbojet engine, which allowed the aircraft to have a lower stance while on he ground.