Seventeen people were killed after a small military plane crashed into a residential area in Rawalpindi early Tuesday morning.
The plane crashed into a private housing society after which fire erupted in five houses, according to Pakistan Army’s media wing. A huge fireball was created that lit up the night sky and terrified residents. The society is located near Mohra Kalu, which falls under the jurisdiction of the Rawat police station. The ISPR said that the plane was on a routine training mission when the accident occurred.
The deceased have been identified as Lieutenant Colonel Saqib, Lieutenant Colonel Wasim, Naib Subedar Afzal, Havaldar Ibne Ameen and Havaldar Rehmat.
Following the plane crash, teams of Pakistan Army and Rescue 1122 reached and site and controlled the blaze. Eleven residents of the society were killed, while 12 injured in the fire. The injured have been shifted to a hospital. Holy Family Deputy Medical Superintendent said that the condition of two injured women is critical.
“I woke to the sound of a huge explosion. I stepped out of my house and saw huge flames and we rushed to the site,” said Mohammad Sadiq, an eyewitness. “People were screaming. We tried to help them but the flames were too high and the fire too intense, so we could not do anything. The dead includes seven members of one family and most of them were burned to death.”
Another resident Ghulam Khan said he heard the plane as it buzzed over his house, adding the aircraft appeared to be on fire before it crashed. “The sound was so scary,” he added.
Pakistan has a chequered aviation safety record, with frequent plane and helicopter crashes over the years.
In 2016, a Pakistan International Airlines plane burst into flames after one of its two turboprop engines failed while travelling from remote northern Pakistan to Islamabad, killing more than 40 people.
The deadliest air disaster on Pakistani soil was in 2010 when an Airbus 321 operated by private airline Airblue and flying from Karachi crashed into the hills outside Islamabad while coming into land, killing all 152 onboard.
With additional reporting from AFP.