At least 18 people were killed after a Pakistani military plane on a training flight crashed into homes on Tuesday before dawn.
The crash near on the outskirts of the Rawalpindi city caused fires, damaged homes and left debris scattered around. Following the rescue efforts, troops and police began investigating the crash site and looked for plane debris.
The Pakistani military said the crashed aircraft was on a routine training flight, though it remains unclear what caused the crash.
Officials said no one on the aircraft survived, while 13 civilians were killed on the ground. The army said in a statement that five crew members, including two pilots, died in the crash.
At least 15 people were also injured in the crash, according to Farooq Butt, an official at the state-run emergency service. The death toll could rise as some of the injured remain in critical condition.
“We have moved all the bodies and injured persons to hospitals,” Butt told the Associated Press. “Most of the victims received burn injuries,” he added, noting that there were children among the dead.
Residents were woken up by the sound of an explosion and debris of a burning plane. Many soon mourned their relatives as rescuers put charred bodies of the victims into ambulances.
“According to our latest information, a total of 18 people were killed in the plane crash. They include five crew members and 13 civilians who were killed when the plane crashed into homes and quickly caught fire,” said medical doctor Abdul Rehman, adding that at least three homes were badly damaged and the pilots’ bodies had been retrieved.
The crash comes amid heightened tensions between Pakistan and India, particularly after the Indian government launched an airstrike targeting Pakistan-based militants behind the suicide bombing that killed 40 Indian troops in Indian-administered Kashmir.
Pakistan at the time retaliated and said it shot down two Indian air force planes. One Indian pilot was captured and later released as a gesture of goodwill.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.