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LONDON: Four Pakistanis were believed to be among the 51 passengers who died aboard the Ariana Afghan Airlines 727-Boeing jetliner which crashed early today [Jan 5] while trying to land in dense fog at Gatwick Airport near London.

The Ariana Boeing which flew from Kabul by way of Kandhar, Beirut, Istanbul and Frankfurt carried 54 passengers and a crew of nine. The names of Pakistanis who perished in the crash were given as Hayatullah and S. Bhatti and two members of his family. Most of the other passengers were Indian Sikhs. The aircraft Afghan Commander Captain Nowroz is one of the survivors.

The Ariana Airlines jet was the first aircraft to attempt a landing at Gatwick since the airport was closed by fog at 4 a.m. on Saturday. The airport control is understood to have told the Boeing captain that the visibility was less than 300 metres but he decided to attempt a landing.

As it approached airport at 2-30 a.m., the Ariana Airlines blue and white Boeing hit a house half a mile east of the runway and crashed on a farm nearby. An English couple sleeping in the house hit by the aircraft [were] killed. The aircraft burst into flames as it hit the ground and several loud explosions were heard.

Published in Dawn, January 6th, 2019

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