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Subject: Plane Crashes in Pakistan With Eight People on Board, Including Afghan Industries Minister

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Date Posted: February 24, 2003 4:23:18 EDT

A small chartered aircraft crashed into the Arabian Sea off Pakistan's southern coast Monday, killing all eight people on board, including Afghanistan's Industries Minister, a Pakistan Navy naval official said.

The Cessna 402 was carrying mining officials from Karachi to Jazak near the Iranian border in southwestern Baluchistan. The plane lost contact with the Karachi Airport control tower 29 minutes after takeoff and crashed about 28 miles west of the port city.

"We have recovered four bodies so far," Roshan Khayal, a naval spokesman, told The Associated Press. The coastal waters were being searched for the other four bodies.

On the plane were Afghan Industries Minister Juma Mohammed Mohammedi, three other Afghan officials, a representative of Pakistan's foreign ministry and two crew members, officials said. The eighth person on board was Sun Changshen, a representative of the China Metallurgical Construction Company.

"Two pieces of the plane have been found floating on the sea," said Pervez George, of the civil aviation authority that governs air traffic in Pakistan. He did not say why the plane crashed.

The Cessna was owned by Pakistan's largest private welfare organization, Edhi Trust, and had left Karachi International Airport at about 8 a.m. local time.

The aircraft had been chartered by Star Aviation to take a group of officials belonging to Metallurgical Company of China to an excavation site in Sainak in southwestern Baluchistan, near Jazak, which is roughly 480 miles northwest of Karachi.

In the Afghan capital of Kabul Mohammedi's colleagues were saddened.

"We are all very shaken. Everybody is asking me, is it true?" asked Afghanistan's Deputy Industries Minister Mir Mohammed Mafouz Nedai said, as civil servants in the ministry in Kabul crowded into his office upon hearing the news. "It's very sad."

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