MULTAN, Pakistan - A Pakistan International Airlines passenger plane crashed soon after takeoff on a domestic flight Monday in eastern Pakistan, and all 45 people on board were killed, officials said.
The Fokker F-27 twin-engine aircraft slammed into a wheat field on the outskirts of the city of Multan two or three minutes after takeoff, spiraling in the air before it hit the ground, witnesses said.
"All 41 passengers and four crew members on board the plane have died," said Iftikhar Babar, the district coordination officer for Multan.
Malik Bashir, PIA's station manager at Multan airport, confirmed there were no survivors. He said the cause of the crash was not yet known, but ruled out the possibility of a terrorist attack on the state's carrier's plane.
A female flight attendant who was pulled alive from the plane's wreckage died later at a hospital, airline security official Mohammed Iqbal said.
President Gen. Pervez Musharraf expressed grief over the crash and ordered an investigation to determine the cause, state-run Pakistan Television reported.
Bashir said flight PK-688 took off normally on a flight to Lahore, the capital of eastern Punjab province, at around 12:05 p.m.
"Whatever happened to it was after takeoff," he said. "The plane has burned completely and bodies are being pulled out of the wreckage."
Plane debris, newspapers, cold drink bottles and clothes littered the crash site, about two miles from Multan airport. Emergency workers wore face masks to protect against thick black smoke and the smell of burning oil and flesh.
After firefighters doused the fire, rescuers pulled bodies from the smoldering wreckage. The fire left the plane's fuselage a blackened hulk and its seared tail lay on its side.
Fifteen bodies were recovered and taken to the morgue at state-run Nishtar Hospital in Multan, said Mohammed Irafan, a doctor with Edhi Foundation, a Pakistani charity that responds to emergencies.
Mohammed Nadeem, a jeweler who lives near the crash site, said the plane was rotating sideways in the air before it hit the ground and went up in flames.
"There was a huge explosion after the plane hit the ground," he said.
Another witness said the plane hit the ground with a huge thud and its wreckage caught fire and caused a fire at a nearby power line.
"The plane begin to come down abruptly. Then it hit the ground. Then there were flames and dust," said Arshad Gujjar, 35, who had been cutting a tree in a nearby orchard.
At least eight fire trucks helped put out the blazing wreckage. Police and army troops shouted orders at hundreds of onlookers from nearby villages to stay away to allow emergency workers to do their job.