Twenty—one people, including at least one foreign national, were killed when a small aircraft belonging to a private charter service crashed immediately after taking off from the airport in the southern Pakistani port city of Karachi today.

The Beechcraft 1900C aircraft of JS Air, which had been chartered to ferry employees of a US oil company, had 19 passengers and two crew members on board, Civil Aviation Authority officials told TV news channels.

The officials said at least foreigner was on the aircraft but did not give his nationality.

Immediately after the twin—engine turboprop aircraft took off from Karachi aircraft at 7.15 am, the pilot informed the control tower that one of the engines had failed.

The pilot was advised to turn back and land.

However, the aircraft crashed into open ground at an army central ordinance depot near the airport and burst into flames.

Lt Col Noor Alam, an army officer who participated in the rescue operation, told the media: “No one survived the crash. There were no casualties on the ground as the aircraft crashed into an open field.

The situation is under control and the army mounted the best possible rescue operation.”

Army personnel cordoned off the area and began pulling bodies out of the debris after dousing the flames.

Ambulances of the private Chippa rescue service took at least 12 bodies to the Jinnah Hospital.

Alam said all the bodies were charred beyond recognition and it was impossible to make out whether the dead were Pakistanis or foreigners.

“One of our officers fainted on seeing the bodies,” he said. The nose of the aircraft had to be cut to remove the bodies of the pilot and co—pilot, Alam said.

The aircraft was taking a group of workers to the Bhitshah oilfield near Karachi. JS Air had been chartered by the US oil company to ferry its workers as part of a weekly change of shift at the oilfield.

Due to security concerns, the workers are flown directly to the oilfield. Besides the pilot and co—pilot, 17 passengers including one foreigner, a guard from the Airport Security Force and a technician were on board the aircraft, officials were quoted as saying by TV news channels.

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