Cargo plane crash in Pakistani city leaves 9 dead

Russian-made plane slams into housing complex under construction in Karachi; over 20 buildings damaged.

November 28, 2010 10:35
1 minute read.
Pakistani volunteers and firefighters

Pakistan crash 311. (photo credit: AP Photo/Shakil Adil)

KARACHI, Pakistan — A cargo plane crashed in flames into a residential area in Pakistan's largest city soon after takeoff Sunday, killing all eight Russian crew and at least one person on the ground, officials said.

The Russian-made plane slammed into a housing complex under construction in Karachi, sending fire and smoke into the sky and razing or damaging about 20 buildings. The aircraft narrowly missed hitting several large apartment buildings only a few hundred yards (meters) away.

Authorities pulled one laborer's body from the smoking rubble Sunday and another person on the ground was hospitalized with severe burns. Emergency teams were searching for any additional survivors or bodies.

The crash was the second this month in Karachi, the main port city in the south, and the third in Pakistan in less than five months.

The Sudan-bound plane crashed around 1:50 a.m., when many people in the upscale neighborhood were asleep. One of the plane's engines was on fire as it flew overhead, several witnesses said.

"I saw one of its wings was burning and there was a blast and the fire engulfed the aircraft very quickly," said Riaz Ahmed.

Residents said most of the houses destroyed were under construction and believed unoccupied except for a few of the laborers building them. Karachi police chief Fayaz Leghari said one body had been pulled from the debris and more might be found but that a larger catastrophe had narrowly been averted.

"It would have been a big disaster had the plane hit the residential apartments," Leghari said.

Aviation authority spokesman Pervais George said the plane came down two minutes after takeoff from the city's international airport. He said the eight crew, all Russians, were dead.

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