Smoke billows from the scene of the helicopter crash, at Naltar in Gilgit, Pakistan.

Islamabad - South Africa’s High Commissioner to Pakistan has survived a helicopter crash which killed seven people on Friday, including the ambassadors of Norway and the Philippines, and the wives of the Malaysian and Indonesian ambassadors.

South Africa’s Mpendulo Jele was named on the flight list, along with the ambassadors of Lebanon and Romania.

Pakistan military spokesman Asim Bajwa said the ambassadors of Poland and the Netherlands were among the injured.

The military helicopter was ferrying diplomats to inspect a tourism project when it crashed on Friday in the mountainous northern region of Gilgit. Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was travelling on a separate aircraft.

He returned to Islamabad, his office said.

The dead include Norwegian ambassador Leif Larsen, Philippine ambassador Domingo Lucenario, the wives of the ambassador of Malaysia, Habibah Mahmud, and of Indonesia, Heri Listyawati Burhan Muhammad, two pilots, and a crew member.

Initial information indicated the cause was a technical fault.

Foreign secretary Azaz Chaudhry also blamed technical problems.


“Apparently its engine failed. It was not terrorism,” he said.

The Pakistani Taliban claimed they shot down the aircraft, but witnesses on the ground and in other helicopters on the trip reported nothing to indicate any shooting.