22 killed in Pakistan plane crash; 68 feared dead in Cuba

Cuban passenger plane goes down in mountainous region; rescuers search for survivors; all on board private plane die in Karachi crash.

Cuban Plane Crash 311 (photo credit: Associated Press)
Cuban Plane Crash 311
(photo credit: Associated Press)
HAVANA — A Cuban airliner flying from the eastern city of Santiago de Cuba to the capital crashed in a mountainous area after declaring an emergency Thursday evening with 68 people aboard, including 28 foreigners, state media reported. There was no immediate word on whether any survived.
AeroCaribbean Flight 883 went down near the village of Guasimal in Santi Spiritus province, carrying 61 passengers and a crew of seven, state television said. It said 28 passengers were foreigners, but did not give a breakdown of nationalities.
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State media said the names of those on board would be released later.
Rescue workers were at the scene and had recovered the first bodies, according to the local state-run newspaper Escambray. It said they were also searching the rugged area for survivors.
A photo posted on the paper's Web site showed a large piece of the plane in flames, with rescue workers in olive-green military uniforms standing around it. It said the local Communist Party chief as well as Interior Ministry and other officials were at the scene helping with the rescue effort.
In a separate disaster, a small, private plane chartered to an oil company crashed near the airport in Pakistan's largest city Friday after the pilot warned of engine trouble, killing all 22 people on board, officials said.
The crash was the second in less than four months in Pakistan — the latest tragedy in a year when massive floods left millions homeless and Islamist militants kept up attacks. The previous crash, in July, killed 152 people and was the worst-ever on Pakistani soil.
The plane that crashed Friday morning had just taken off from the southern city of Karachi. The pilot told the control tower minutes before the crash that there appeared to be some fault with the engine, said Pervez George, a spokesman for the country's Civil Aviation Authority.
The pilot was ordered to return to the airport, but as he was turning the aircraft, it went down in an open field, the spokesman said. The plane caught on fire after the crash. TV footage from the scene showed it had broken into pieces, with the tail completely separated from the otherwise charred body.
"The bodies onboard are beyond recognition," said Army Lt. Col. Noor Alam, a lead rescue official.
The make and model of the plane were not immediately clear, but officials said it was chartered to an oil company and headed to an oil field in the Bhitshah area in southern Sindh province.
State-run Pakistan Television said foreigners may have been among the passengers. The US Embassy said it was checking to see if any were American.