Image:Rescue workers gather at the scene of Pakistan plane crash
Rehan Khan  /  EPA
Rescue workers gather at the scene of a small plane crash, near Karachi Airport in Pakistan on Friday. Officials said that the pilot warned of engine troubles, and the crash killed everyone on board.
msnbc.com news services
updated 11/5/2010 8:19:26 AM ET 2010-11-05T12:19:26

A chartered plane crashed after taking off from Pakistan's Karachi airport on Friday, killing all 21 people aboard.

NBC News reported the plane was chartered by an oil company and was en route to the Bit oil fields in interior Sindh Province.

Citing local media, BNO News service said all passengers aboard worked for the oil firm.

Reuters said the plane was chartered by Italy-based ENI.

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The Beech aircraft that crashed Friday morning belonged to the JS Air company and had just taken off from the southern city of Karachi. The pilot told the control tower minutes before the crash that there appeared to be some fault with the engine, said Pervez George, a spokesman for the country's Civil Aviation Authority.

The plane took off at 7:13 a.m. local time, and a minute later, the pilot reported an engine on fire, NBC News said. The pilot tried to turn back but crashed almost immediately.

The plane caught on fire after the crash. TV footage from the scene showed it had broken into pieces, with the tail completely separated from the otherwise charred body.

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"The plane has been destroyed," said Lt. Colonel Noor Agha, an army official supervising rescue operations. "The dead bodies are burned beyond recognition. It could not be recognized whether they are men or women. We don't know nationalities."

JS Air spokesman Nadeem Hanif said the plane was capable of carrying 19 passengers and two crew members, and that it had been checked before taking off Friday. JS Air is based in Karachi.

"It was a fit aircraft, which was cleared to fly," Hanif said. "Absolutely, there should not be any ambiguity in anybody's mind that it was fit to carry out operations."

The relatives of the dead were being notified, Hanif said.

The crash was the second in less than four months in Pakistan, which has struggled with numerous crises this year, including massive floods that have left millions homeless and ongoing Islamist militant attacks. The previous crash killed 152 people.

Karachi is a mega-city of more than 16 million people and its airport hosts flights from all over the world.

The July 28 flight by Pakistani carrier Airblue crashed into hills overlooking the capital, Islamabad, during stormy weather, killing all 152 people aboard in the worst-ever crash on the country's soil. Initial reports said a few people had survived that crash, but later it was confirmed everyone onboard had died.

NBC, The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

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