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Plane Hits Pakistan Neighborhood

July 30, 1998

KARACHI, Pakistan (AP) _ A Pakistan air force plane slammed into a crowded Karachi neighborhood Thursday, killing at least six people on the ground. At least 25 people were injured, most with serious burns.

The plane exploded on impact, immediately setting three houses on fire. The flames quickly spread through the neighborhood of small, one-story dwellings, trapping an unknown number of people.

The six dead, including three children, were pulled from the houses. The bodies were burned beyond recognition. The afternoon crash came at a time of the day when mostly women and children were at home.

The air force said the Chinese built F-7P fighter, which was on a routine training mission, developed serious engine trouble while returning to base nearby and hit the ground in western Orangi district, a densely populated, lower-middle class neighborhood in Karachi, the port city that is Pakistan’s financial hub.

``The pilot of the aircraft tried to steer it as far away from the populated area as the circumstances allowed him. When all efforts to save the aircraft failed, the pilot ejected out of the aircraft,″ the air force said in a statement.

Dozens of fire trucks converged on the scene. Military troops cordoned off the area as hundreds of residents rushed home from work, anxious about relatives.

Earlier Thursday in neighboring India, a commercial propeller aircraft crashed shortly after taking off from the southern city of Cochin. All six persons on board were killed, Indian news agencies reported.

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