KARACHI: A chartered aircraft carrying Afghanistan's minister of industry and a Chinese mining executive crashed off southern Pakistan, killing all eight people aboard, officials said.
Wreckage from the Cessna 402, which crashed shortly after take-off, was found in the Arabian Sea. The aircraft was en route from Karachi to Jazak, near the Iranian border in southwestern Baluchistan.
Four bodies have been recovered so far, said a naval spokesman, Roshan Khayal.
Among the eight dead was Afghanistan's Industries Minister Juma Mohammed Mohammedi and Sun Changshen, the Pakistan representative of the China Metallurgical Construction Company.
The aircraft had been chartered to take a group of officials belonging to the company to an excavation site in Jazal. It crashed 28 aeronautical miles west of here, losing contact with the control tower 29 minutes into the 700km flight, said Pervez George, of the Civil Aviation Authority that governs air traffic in Pakistan.
Two pieces of the plane were found floating in the sea, George said.
Also on board were three other Afghan officials, a representative of Pakistan's Foreign Ministry and two crew members.
The aircraft, owned by Pakistan's largest private welfare organisation, Edhi Trust, had left Karachi International Airport at 8am. It was piloted by Col Sajjad, the welfare organisation said.
While in Pakistan, the Afghan minister participated in talks on a US$3.2bil (RM12bil) project to build a pipeline to carry natural gas from Turkmenistan to Pakistan and India.
Mohammadi said on Saturday that he wanted an early start on the project and said he had given assurances to Pakistan and Turkmenistan that the pipeline would be “totally safe'' in Afghanistan.
In Kabul, Afghanistan's Deputy Industries Minister Mir Mohammed Mafouz Nedai said he was “very shaken'' by the news.
The crash was the second in less than a week in Pakistan.
Last week, a Pakistani air force plane on a routine mission ploughed into a mountainside under heavy fog in remote northwestern Pakistan, killing the air force chief and all 16 others on board. – AP
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