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Last Updated:  Monday, 24 February, 2003, 16:30 GMT
Plane crash kills Afghan minister
Pakistani naval personnel unload body in Karachi
Pakistan's navy recovered a number of bodies
An Afghan Government minister has been killed in a plane crash in southern Pakistan.

Minister for Mines and Industries Juma Mohammad Mohammadi and Pakistani foreign ministry official Mohammad Farhad Ahmed were among eight people on board the Cessna plane that went missing shortly after takeoff.

The aircraft crashed into the Arabian Sea, west of Karachi, as it headed for Balochistan Province near the Iranian border.

Weather officials say it was clear and sunny in Karachi at the time of the crash.

Also on board the aircraft were three other Afghan officials, two crew members and a senior Chinese businessman.

'Sad news'

Afghan President Hamid Karzai was swift to express shock and sadness at the deaths.

Juma Mohammad Mohammadi
Mr Mohammadi had been discussing the trans-Afghan pipeline

"We have lost a fine, qualified Afghan minister... And we are very sorry for that," he said in Kuala Lumpur, where he is attending a summit of the Non-Aligned Movement.

His government has already lost two ministers in the past year.

Tourism Minister Abdul Rehman was assassinated at Kabul airport last February, and Haji Abdul Qadir, the vice-president, was shot dead at his office in July.

Mohammadi had lived in the United States before taking up his cabinet post and previously worked for the World Bank.

Second crash

Pervez George, of Pakistan's Civil Aviation Authority, said contact was lost 29 minutes after the plane left Karachi at 0800 local time (0300 GMT) on Monday morning.

Wreckage was found about 50 kilometres (30 miles) west of the port city.

The Pakistan navy has found six bodies near the wreckage and says there has been no trace of any survivors.

The plane had been chartered from a Pakistani charity, the Edhi Welfare Foundation.

Mr Mohammadi and his colleagues were in Pakistan for Saturday's meeting on the trans-Afghan pipeline from Turkmenistan, through Afghanistan to South Asia.

They had been travelling to a copper and gold mining project being run by a Chinese firm in Balochistan.

Last week Pakistan's air chief marshal, Mushaf Ali Mir, and 16 other passengers died when their plane crashed in the remote Kohat district, about 250 kilometres (150 miles) north-west of the capital, Islamabad.

Reports suggest officials believe pilot error in low visibility was the most likely cause.



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Country Profile: Pakistan
29 Jan 03 |  Country profiles

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