PIA plane crash: 43 bodies recovered; Pakistani pop star on board

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — At least 43 bodies have been recovered from the site of a plane crash Wednesday near Abbottabad, Pakistan, police said.

Forty-eight people were on board, according to Pakistan International Airlines.

The airline said Flight PK-661 was carrying 42 passengers, five crew members and one ground engineer when it lost contact with a control tower on its way from Chitral to Islamabad.

Pop star-turned-religious artist Junaid Jamshed was among those on board, his manager, Arsalan Khan, told CNN.

Jamshed soared to fame in the 1980s with Vital Signs, one of the most iconic pop bands in Pakistan.

After a successful career as a solo singer in the 1990s, Jamshed gave up pop stardom to focus on religious music, or nasheeds.

His last tweet, posted Sunday, showed pictures of “Heaven on Earth” in Chitral — the northern Pakistan city where the plane took off.

The aircraft was an ATR-42 twin-engine propeller plane. The aircraft’s manufacturer, ATR, is a joint venture between Airbus Group and Italy’s Leonardo.

Pakistan, with about 190 million people, has thriving domestic air operations connecting points across the country.

But it has a checkered air safety history and suffered three fatal commercial air crashes in 2010 that claimed 185 lives, according to the Aviation Safety Network.

Wednesday’s crash is the first major airliner accident in Pakistan since 2012 when a Bhoja Air Boeing 737-200 crashed in bad weather while on approach to Islamabad.

CNN’s Sophia Saifi reported from Islamabad, and Holly Yan wrote from Atlanta. CNN’s Jon Ostrower, Andreena Narayan and Muhammad Lila contributed to this report.