KARACHI: A cargo plane crashed in a Naval housing colony near Karachi’s Dalmia area early Sunday morning.
Speaking to the media, Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) spokesman Pervais George said the plane was a Russian-made cargo plane which was heading to Sudan when it came down two minutes after take off.
The plane was an Ilyushin IL-76 aircraft bound for the Sudanese capital Khartoum. “It took off from Karachi at 1:45 am (20:45 GMT Saturday) and after one and a half minutes it crashed,” George added.
Rescue officials have so far confirmed that 11 people have died in the crash.
Express 24/7 correspondent Ahmed Jung reports that the plane crashed in the Naval Housing Scheme and 12 houses have been destroyed as a result of the crash. Residents of nearby areas felt the impact of the crash and fire and smoke can be witnessed emanating from the area.
According to Jung,there were eight people on board, all of them were Russians. Gaslines in the area have exploded and officials are trying to shut down the gas supply. Electricity supply in the area has also been shut down as the plane crashed through electricity poles, reports Jung.
Express 24/7 reported that eyewitnesses say the engine of the plane was seen on fire before the crash. Speaking to the media, the CAA spokesperson George, however, said the plane caught fire a minute after take off and that the pilot did not contact the authorities.
According to Express News correspondent Wasiq Muhammad, the fire had spread to the occupied residencies in the area.
Police and ambulances have reached the area and rescue operations are underway. The injured are being shifted to the civil hospital.
Rescue workers faced a lot of difficulty due to the scores of people that had gathered around the crash site. The Sindh governor also appealed to the people to move away from the site so rescue operations could be carried out properly.
Efforts were being made to extinguish the fire at the site and much of it was brought under control. Generators were used to light up the area in the absence of electricity supply.
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 AFP. He had been going home on his motorbike after closing his shop.
“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.
“The crash has created a large fire. The fire brigade is on site and trying to extinguish the flames, but the fire is too large to bring under control quickly, so it will take time,” he said.
“It was a huge blast. People thought it was a bomb blast. Police are trying to assess the number of casualties.”
Residents in nearby buildings left to spend the night with relatives and police were evacuating others, Leghari said.
The site was near to the military-controlled area where a Pakistani twin-engine turboprop crashed after take off from Karachi on November 5, killing all 21 people on board.