A Russian-made cargo plane crashed in a fireball near a residential complex here seconds after taking off from the airport of the southern Pakistani city today, killing 12, including all its eight-member crew.
The Ilyushin IL—76 aircraft, which came from the UAE and was en route to Sudanese capital Khartoum, crashed at 1:45 am local time, TV news channels reported quoting aviation officials.
“It was an IL—76 cargo plane. It was going to Khartoum.
It had eight people on board,” Civil Aviation Authority spokesman Pervez George said. It took off at 1:45 am and crashed after 90 seconds or one—and—a—half minutes, he said.
Dunya News said that all eight crew members are reported dead.
The aircraft slammed into buildings under construction in the Dalmai neighbourhood of Karachi, where the Pakistan Air Force and Navy have residential apartments and offices close to Jinnah International airport, according to witnesses.
Around seven people on the ground were also injured, doctors were quoted as saying by Geo TV.
Witnesses spoke of their horror at seeing a fireball racing through the night sky. “I saw a fireball plummeting to ground,” milk seller Mohammad Raees told Geo TV. “It was so huge and quick. I was terrified. I couldn’t see what it was. I sped up to save my life and after a few seconds I heard a deafening explosion, but thanks to Allah my life was saved and I was not injured.”
The explosion caused by the crash was so powerful that local residents thought it was triggered by a bomb, said Karachi police chief Fayyas Leghari.
Flames raged in four to five construction sites, but officials said the number of casualties could have been far higher if the plane had struck nearby residential buildings.
Fire brigade teams were trying to control the raging fire.
Debris from the aircraft lay scattered over an area of one-and-a-half kilometres.
Footage on television showed massive flames and thick black smoke rising into the skies from the crash site, located in a thickly populated area.
Several smaller explosions occurred after the crash as the aircraft’s fuel tanks were full.
Witnesses said some bodies pulled out of the aircraft were mutilated beyond recognition.
Second in a month
This is the second airplane crash in Karachi in a month’s time.
On November 5 a beechcraft airliner of a private air carrier on a chartered flight had also crashed minutes after take-off near the airport, killing all 21 on board.
Earlier on July 28, an Airbus 321 passenger jet operated by Airblue crashed into hills near the Pakistani capital Islamabad while coming in to land after a flight from Karachi, killing 152 people on board in the worst aviation accident on Pakistani soil