ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — A small Pakistani military plane crashed into a village on the outskirts of Rawalpindi on Tuesday, killing at least 18 people, including 13 people on the ground, and injuring several others, rescue officials said.
The cause of the crash was not immediately known, and military officials said the small plane, belonging to the army aviation corps, was on a routine training flight when it crashed around 2 a.m. Two of the five people onboard were pilots.
After the plane crashed, a large fire broke out, engulfing several houses in the village of Mora Kalu near Rawalpindi, a city adjacent to the capital, Islamabad.
“Five houses were damaged and caught fire,” said Farooq Butt, an emergency services official. “The fire has been controlled.”
A video posted on Twitter showed the plane flying low as it crashed into the village, igniting a large explosion that lit the night sky.
Some witnesses said they had seen the plane flying at a low height before crashing into the village, which is next to an affluent gated neighborhood.
Salman Majid, who lives in the gated community, Bahria Garden City, said he and some guests had been standing on the porch of his house when the plane passed overhead.
“The plane was flying very low, and we immediately figured something was unusual,” he said. “It passed over us and crashed a little further.”
By Tuesday afternoon, army troops had cordoned off the crash site. The wreckage of the aircraft could be seen on the rooftop of a house that had partly collapsed. An adjacent house was heavily damaged.
Tahir Mehmood, 22, a laborer, said he lived with his wife and 2-year-old son in a shed near the cluster of homes that were caught up in the fire after the crash. His home, along with a few others, burned to the ground.
“We were sleeping, and suddenly there was a deafening explosion,” he said. “I did not understand what happened. I came out and saw there was fire everywhere. I don’t know how, but I grabbed my son’s hand and ran away into the open field.”
He said he and his family were not hurt, but they lost all of their belongings in the fire. “We already had very little,” he said. “Now, that is gone, too.”